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LI E) RARY 

OF THE 

U N IVLR.SITY 

Of ILLINOIS 

823 

M//3m 

V.3 



4^ 



MELANTHE; 



OB, 



THE DAYS OF THE MEDICI. 



^ ^Tale of tfie j^iftttni^ ©ntturw. 



BY 

Mrs. MABERLY, 
author of " emily ;" " the love match," &c. 



VOL. III. 

LONDON : 
JOHN MITCHELL, 

BOOKSELLER AND PUBLISHER TO THE QUEEN, 
33, OLD BOND STREET. 



MDCCCXLIII. 



LONDON: 

PRINTED BY J. MITCHELL AND CO. (lATE BRETTELL), 

RUPERT STREET, HAYMARKET. 



V.3 



MELANTHE; 

OR, 

THE DAYS OF THE MEDICI 



CHAPTER I. 

The first care of Borgia, upon quitting the 
presence of Melanthe after the interview in the 
Convent, which had converted him into a bitter 
enemy, was to devise some plan by which his ven- 
geance might surely reach her. The forfeit of 
her liberty or life was not the punishment he con- 
templated. He knew too well that a mind like 
that of Melanthe would gladly welcome such 
deliverance from the torture he hoped to inflict. 
Convinced that the attachment which subsisted 
between her and Montesecco was more serious than 
he had at first imagined, the Cardinal resolved 

VOL. III. B 



MELANTHE. 



upon a double vengeance. He was too deeply 
versed in the feelings of the mind not to be certain 
that to a nature so elevated and pure as that of 
his destined victim, the agony of being despised 
by the being she fondly loved, would be the 
greatest misery which could be inflicted ; and he 
determined to lose no time in so arranging his 
plans, that the guilt of Melanthe should be made 
apparent to Montesecco, before the possibility could 
exist of her holding any communication with him. 
To effect this, two things were necessary. The 
first was, to seclude his victim so that it should 
be impossible for her to make known her distress. 
This, by means of his numerous emissaries, would 
be easily accomplished; and with what success, 
the fruitless endeavours of Mariana to obtain the 
intelligence she required, soon rendered apparent. 
The next step was more difficult, and for some 
time the Cardinal hesitated as to the course he 
should pursue ; any appearance of mystery or de- 
sign would have the effect of awakening suspicion 
in the mind of Montesecco. Anonymous commu- 
nications would probably meet with little or no 
attention ; and, should the name of Borgia appear. 



MELANTHE. 3 

the wily Cardinal well knew that his hopes would 
end in disappointment. It therefore became ex- 
pedient to have recourse to the aid of others ; and 
Borgia cast his eyes around, in order to discover 
a fitting agent. 

After mature deliberation, his choice was made. 
Calling to mind the anxiety which Luca Pitti 
had betrayed when the love of Montesecco for 
Melanthe had first become known to him, the Car- 
dinal decided that some secret reason existed which 
rendered the prospect of their union distasteful to 
him. The power which Luca Pitti seemed to 
exercise over the young Condottiere had not been 
unobserved by Borgia ; and without seeking to 
ascertain its cause, he resolved to turn the cir- 
cumstance to the furtherance of his own designs. 

Borgia seldom allowed a long interval to elapse 
between the arrangement of his plans and their 
execution. The morning after the unhappy Me- 
lanthe had been driven from the Convent, the 
Cardinal bent his steps towards the residence of 
Luca Pitti. A day later, and the sorrow which 
he meditated for his victim might, by accidental 
circumstances, have been averted. He found Luca 



MELANTHE. 



Pitti on the eve of his departure for Florence. 
The return of a secret messenger had brought to 
the conspirators intelligence which almost surpassed 
their hopes. The mission of Francesco de' Pazzi to 
his uncle Jacopo, had been crowned with success, 
but not without difficulty, for the heart of the old 
man leaned to the Medici. The aggrandizement of 
their families was at that time the darling passion 
of the ItaHan nobles, and individual honour or 
safety was constantly sacrificed to obtain this end. 
Jacopo de' Pazzi loved the young Lorenzo and 
Giuliano as his sons ; but even his own children, 
had they opposed themselves to the interests of the 
house of the Pazzi, which, second only to the 
Medici in point of riches and influence, aimed at 
the sole government of Florence, would in all 
probability have been sacrificed to the pride and 
ambition of the family. Jacopo was its head ; and 
while the weakest of its members clamoured for 
support, the strongest threatened revenge if thwarted, 
until the old man trembled and faltered. Fran- 
cesco, the leader of the conspiracy, saw his advan- 
tage, and cunningly impressed upon his uncle the 
absolute necessity of yielding, ere the torrent should 



MELAXTKE. 



sweep past, and overwhelm him. Then, who 
would credit the assertion of his innocence ? who 
would value the profession of his faith ? Involved 
in a common ruin, or success, who would inquire 
which branch still flourished on the tree, or which 
had perished ? Feeble and terrified, Jacopo listened 
to this false reasoning, until, having once admitted 
the idea, it grew and strengthened, and the head 
of the Pazzi suffered his name to be enrolled as 
leader of the conspiracy. 

From that hour all seemed to prosper. Mon- 
tughi, the villa of Jacopo, situated about a mile 
from Florence, was the spot chosen for the meet- 
ings of the discontented ; and many of the citizens, 
gaining courage to avow a spirit of jealousy and 
impatience of the control of the Medici, under 
which they had long chafed, secretly resorted thither; 
while influence and money soon lent to the move- 
ments of the conspirators a much more serious 
aspect than Francesco, on his arrival at Florence, 
had anticipated. So rapidly had the organization 
of the malcontents within the city been effected, 
that it had become an imperative necessity to 
assure theai of the long-promised auxiliary aid ; 



O MELANTHE. 

and messengers were instantly dispatched to all the 
foreign powers implicated in the infamous trans- 
action. 

The death of Piero de" Medici, which had taken 
place immediately upon the return of Lorenzo from 
Rome, had infused new spirit into the hearts of the 
discontented nobles and citizens, whose jealousy 
was still more keenly aroused by the almost unani- 
mous deference with which the magistrates had 
entreated Lorenzo to assume the reins of govern- 
ment. No time was to be lost, as every day added 
to the strength of those, whose only crime was 
being already too popular, and too firmly fixed in 
the authority coveted by their opponents. The 
news of their progress had been instantly dispatched 
to Rome. Military support was the next step to 
which they would find it necessary to resort, and 
the adhesion of Montesecco to the plot, was now 
deemed a matter of vital importance. 

To this end, the Pope had entrusted Luca Pitti 
with unlimited power, should the young Condot- 
tiere persist in his refusal to attempt to overthrow 
the existing government of Florence by any means 
less honourable than open hostility. Unwilling, 



MELANTHE. 



by too frank an avowal of his doubts with regard 
to the success of such a scheme, to throw any 
obstacle in the way of an undertaking by which he 
hoped to reap the reward of his long suppressed 
hatred to the Medici, Luca Pitti accepted the 
mission of the Pope. The offer of a principality, 
and the possession of revenues proportionate to its 
grandeur, was the tempting bait held out to the 
Condottiere; but even this, which the dependent 
position of Montesecco would, on any other terms, 
have rendered acceptable, was felt by Luca Pitti to 
be insufficient to shake the honour and integrity of 
him whose adhesion they sought. Conviction of 
the justice of their cause, or the un worthiness of 
their destined victim, would, he imagined, be the 
sole condition by which the co-operation of Mon- 
tesecco could be secured. But to make treachery 
assume the garb of justice, or brand with ignominy 
the idol of the Florentine public, was a task which 
appeared to Luca Pitti almost hopeless. Notwith- 
standing, his word was pledged. The wishes of 
the Pope, and the hopes of his confederates in 
infamy, rested upon this point; and Luca Pitti 
prepared to fulfil his promise. 



b MELANTHE. 

The day was fixed for his departure on his jour- 
ney to join Montesecco, when, to his surprise, late 
in the night which preceded it, and disguised so as 
to baffle all attempt at discovery, the Cardinal 
Borgia stood before him. Deep was the conference 
which ensued ; and could the feelings which sepa- 
rately animated the breasts of these monsters of 
deceit and villainy have been laid bare, each would 
have started to find himself outdone in baseness. 

Yet, with the mean distrust natural to the 
wicked, neither wholly confided in the other. 
Luca Pitti carefully avoided all allusion to the 
motives of his anxiety to prevent an union between 
Melanthe and Montesecco ; and the Cardinal was 
equally on his guard to conceal the spirit of revenge 
which prompted his actions. Affecting to be 
solely actuated by sympathy for the feelings of 
I^uca Pitti towards Montesecco, which he had 
imparted to him upon a former occasion, Borgia 
merely recounted the facts, by distorting which 
he had already contrived to steal from Me- 
lanthe the friendship of Jacopo Orsini and his 
daughter ; adding, the important discovery he pre- 
tended to have made, of her intention to appeal to 



I 



MELANTHE. V 

Montesecco for assistance. Having sufficiently 
awakened the fears of Luca Pitti, he suddenly 
proposed to him, in case he should succeed in de- 
taching Montesecco from Melanthe, an union 
between him and Giulia, daughter of the eldest of 
the Colonna, an alliance which he pretended he 
had been charged to negotiate by the Pope, who, 
in the event of the concurrence of Montesecco, had 
promised a rich dowry for his bride. 

The sallow cheek of Luca Pitti showed more 
plainly than he could have wished, how clearly the 
deep insight of Borgia had read the feelings he had 
endeavoured to conceal ; still, though his heart 
bounded at the prospect of the realization of his 
secret hopes, his cautious tongue refused to promise 
that which hereafter it might not be his interest to 
perform. Vague, therefore, were the assurances of 
gratitude with which he received the offers of the 
Cardinal ; nevertheless, the latter that night quitted 
the house of the dissembler, fully satisfied that his 
insidious arguments had produced the desired effect 
— the separation of Melanthe and Montesecco was 
secured ; and the profligate Cardinal, as he re- 
traced his steps towards his sumptuous palace, 
B 5 



10 MELANTHE. 

gloated over the misery he was about to cause, nor 
did one pang of remorse or pity enter his iron 
heart as he contemplated his own cowardly act of 
oppression and revenge. He had succeeded. The 
helpless girl, whose love was her only wealth and 
hope, would be utterly crushed by his malice. He 
revelled in the thought ; for the fiendish nature of 
the man now urged him to scoff at the passion 
which was raging in his breast, until he persuaded 
himself that the gratification of it would be far 
inferior to the delight he experienced from the 
certainty of revenge. 

" Revenge ! — yes, to me, sweeter far, than love 
is — revenge !" muttered the Cardinal, as he strode 
along the deserted streets of Rome. And, perhaps, 
at that moment he thought so. 



CHAPTER II. 

The feelings of Melanthe, as she quitted the 
prison of Elphenor, and regained her home, were 
of a nature so exciting and complicated, that for 
some time she could not decide whether joy or 
sorrow predominated. The rapture of being re- 
stored to her father at one instant filled her soul ; 
while the next brought with it the idea of Borgia ; 
and the blood, chilled back from her heart, ran 
shiveringly along her veins as his image rose to her 
view. She trembled as she contemplated the horror 
of placing herself voluntarily in the power of such 
a man. Still she did not hesitate. Had she not 
promised her father ? Her father I How often did 
Melanthe repeat these words, till their magic sound 
seemed to lull all fear. The sense of desolation was 
gone — the feeling of depen dance had passed away ; 
and gratitude towards Heaven, and towards him, 



12 MELANTHE. 

who, under its presiding influence, had cherished 
her infant years, and preserved her for the happi- 
ness of the present hour, filled the throbbing heart 
of Melanthe ! Humbly on her knees did she pour 
forth her thanks to God, and implore his protection 
through the trial which awaited her ! Nor were the 
names of Hassan and Gennaro forgotten in her 
prayers. 

Thus had many hours worn away after her 
return from the prison, when the officious zeal of 
Mariana disturbed her devotions. Disappointed at 
the abrupt dismissal with which Melanthe had 
greeted her offer of attendance upon her return to 
her home, Mariana had for some time contented 
herself, either with suppressing her annoyance in 
sullen silence, or giving utterance to it in querulous 
attacks upon Stefano for his stupidity in not having 
discovered the departure of his mistress, or even 
the hour at which she had quitted the house that 
morning. In vain the patient Stefano endeavoured 
to convince her that if he was in fault, she was 
equally to blame. Mariana would not rest satisfied ; 
and irritated by the certainty of the existence of a 
secret which she had not been able to discover, she 



MELANTHE. 13 

determined that Melanthe should not remain in the 
seclusion of her apartment, whither she had immedi- 
ately retired, upon her return home. Coming to any 
decision is ever preferable to remaining in harassing 
uncertainty ; and the spirit of Mariana grew more 
tranquil, as she bent her steps to the chamber of 
Melanthe, and, clamouring for admission, began to 
urge the almost maternal right which she had to 
the confidence of her Signora. 

Melanthe did not debate the point ; but instantly 
admitting her faithful servant, she at once gratified 
her curiosity ; and communicated the joyful intel- 
ligence which was the result of her day's absence. 
In this, Melanthe was actuated by two motives. 
The one was the feeling of grateful affection with 
which she remembered the long and faithful services 
of Mariana, which entitled her to this confidence ; 
and the next was, the bitter recollection of the 
manner in which her own former absence from 
home had been perverted into a foundation for the 
basest calumny. 

The joy of Mariana was expressed by the most 
extravagant demonstrations; she wept, laughed, 
and prayed by turns; and was only recalled to 



14 MELA^THE. 

composure, by being reminded that much yet 
remained to be done, ere they might hope to 
welcome Elphenor to his home. 

The repugnance of Melanthe to mention the 
name of Borgia, almost tempted her to conceal the 
promise she had made to solicit from him in person 
the release of her fatlier : but recollecting the 
danger which might ensue, should her true motive 
for such a visit remain unexplained, she hastily 
detailed to Mariana the necessity of again leaving 
the house, at an early hour on the following 
morning. 

In vain Mariana entreated permission to accom- 
pany her. Melanthe steadily refused. The passion 
of Borgia was to her an idea of such pollution, 
that she could not bear the chance of its becoming 
known to another. Mariana, whose head was giddy 
from curiosity, submitted impatiently to this rejec- 
tion of her services ; and the next morning, with a 
mixed feeling of apprehension and disappointment, 
she conducted Melanthe to the gate of the palace 
of the Cardinal ; and having seen her enter it, 
returned to the house of Hassan. 

Refusing to give her name, Melanthe followed 



MELAXTHE. 15 

the person, to whom she had addressed her inquiry 
as to the possibility of seeing the Cardinal, to a 
small ante room, where she was requested to wait 
until the answer of his Eminence could be obtained. 
She was not, however, kept long in suspense ; for 
the secretary of Borgia, who had undertaken to 
deliver the message, had noted, as Melanthe, on 
entering the room threw back her veil, the rare 
beauty of the countenance it had at first concealed, 
and such visitors he well knew were ever welcome 
to his Eminence, the Cardinal Borgia. 

In a short time a gracious answer was returned ; 
and before Melanthe could consider in what words 
she might best clothe her request, she had passed 
the threshold of his chamber, — the door closed — 
and she found herself alone with Borgia. The start 
of surprise with which the Cardinal recognised his 
visitor was not seen by her ; and in another moment 
the self-possession with which he addressed her, and, 
in terms of courtesy, entreated her to be seated, in 
some degree restored her tranquillity. She ventured 
to raise her eyes. Those of the Cardinal were 
fixed upon some writing he held in his hand, and 
Melanthe hurriedly glanced round the room. 



16 



MELANTHE. 



All that she had ever heard of the luxury of 
Borgia was far surpassed by that which she beheld. 
The apartment in which he sat, was not so much 
distinguished by its size as the costly furniture 
with which it was filled. The most exquisite taste 
was displayed in its arrangement. Rare paintings 
adorned the walls, and draperies of the richest velvet 
shaded the lofty windows; while the floor of the 
chamber, composed entirely of precious woods 
inlaid with ivory, was only partially covered with 
the gorgeous carpets of the East. To look upon 
the soft luxuriousness, and to breathe the perfumed 
atmosphere of the apartment, no one could have 
imagined it to be the dwelling of a churchman, 
bound by his vows to frugality, and mortification of 
all temporal desires. 

The appearance of Borgia would still less have 
justified such suspicion. In the. full vigour of his 
age, nothing was omitted which could set off to 
advantage the personal distinctions of which he was 
so proud. Restricted to the use of certain colours, 
he yet contrived that his close-fitting suit of pur- 
ple cloth should be of the finest texture and most 
brilliant hue, admirably relieved by slashings of 



MELANTHE. 17 

velvet, and fastened at the wrists and throat with 
pearls of enormous value. Jewels of every colour 
glittered on his fingers ; and his hand, of the beauty 
of which he was perfectly conscious, was fully 
displayed by the tight and inverted cuff of rich 
lace, the points of which were attached to the sleeve 
by buttons of rubies and diamonds. The use of 
jewels not having been very long permitted to 
ecclesiastics, the rage for them was extreme, and 
those of Borgia were estimated at a very large sum. 
There was one point, however, the concession of 
which, not even the credit of the Cardinal could 
wring from any of the Pontiffs over whom he had 
successively exercised an almost despotic sway. 
The shaven crown still continued an indispensable 
mark of Priesthood ; and Borgia, with the rest, was 
forced to submit. But as the extent of the sacrifice 
was not regulated by law, he contrived that his 
hair should be so cut, as at will the circle might 
be concealed by the redundant locks with which 
nature had endowed him ; and which, mingling 
with the beard of glossy blackness, always trimmed 
and perfumed with scrupulous neatness, not a little 



18 MELANTHE. 

contributed to the effect of the handsome and 
striking person of the Cardinal. 
, As he sat before Melanthe in his luxurious 
chamber, his arm resting upon the writing table, 
whose crimson covering of velvet, deeply fringed 
with gold, swept upon the floor, his rich and 
stately appearance differed widely from that in 
which she had last beheld him. But not more 
changed were his garments than were apparently 
his feelings. Unaccustomed to fathom the depth 
of dissimulation to which a nature like that of 
Borgia could stoop, Melanthe eagerly persuaded 
herself, that in the courteous tone and bland smile 
with which the Cardinal welcomed her unexpected 
presence, there existed perhaps a wish to repair the 
sorrows he had already caused her ; and a feeling 
of hope arose in her bosom, which, alas ! had no 
better foundation than in the nobleness of her own 
heart, incapable of nourishing an implacable 
resentment. After a few moments, during which 
the Cardinal seemed absorbed in the perusal of the 
paper which he held in his hand, but which in 
reality were stolen for the purpose of deciding upon 



MELANTHE. 19 

the manner in which this unexpected interview was 
to be conducted, Borgia raised his eyes towards 
Melanthe, and apologizing for having thus momen- 
tarily withdrawn his attention from her, he con- 
tinued, 

" I might have pleaded surprise as an excuse for 
not sooner inquiring to what fortunate circum- 
stance I am indebted for the honour of your visit, 
had I not been aware that filial affection supersedes 

all other in the bosom of the Signora Melanthe " 

" How ?" exclaimed Melanthe, " you already 

know " 

" Yes !"' replied Borgia, as Melanthe, overcome 
by her astonishment, paused for an instant. " I 
already know that the wishes of your heart are 
accomplished ; and that yesterday in the prisoner, 
who, under the assumed title of one of the Greek 
philosophers, had been confined in Saint Angelo, 
you discovered Elphenor ; and in the arms of your 
newly found father, forgot the hatred you had 
vowed to Roderigo Borgia." 

" No ! not forgot," said Melanthe, alarmed by 
the look of the Cardinal, as he pronounced the last 



20 MELANTHE. 

words; "not forgot, but "^ and again she 

stopped, fearful of saying too little or too much. 

" You cannot then forget and forgive ?" said 
Borgia gently. 

" No r replied Melanthe solemnly ; " but I can 
remember and forgive. Yes — all shall be forgiven 
— ail — the sorrow which you have caused me — the 
sin to which you would have tempted me ; and the 
blighted name which, alas ! is now mine through 
your means — all shall be forgiven, if you will 
restore to me my father r 

" It will be difficult — if not impossible,'' said 
Borgia. 

" Oh ! not impossible," exclaimed Melanthe. 
" You have the power — be generous — and use it. 
See, how I have trusted you — I, against whom you 
vowed eternal wrath. I, a poor helpless girl, — I 
have come to you — alone — to pray for my father. 
My poor father ! '' continued Melanthe, kneeling 
as she spoke, " have pity on him ! — For years he 
has not seen the light of day — for years no voice 
of kindness has reached him in his dungeon. Shut 
out from all, he has grown old in darkness and in 



MELANTHE. 21 

chains — forgotten and alone ! Alone for years ! — 
Oh ! — Cardinal, as you are great, so be merciful ! 
He was not guilty — and had he been so, still let 
the kindness of your heart plead for him. Have 
you no sin, for which you hope to be forgiven ? "" 

The tears of Melanthe choked her utterance ; 
and still kneeling upon the ground, she wept 
unrestrainedly. But the Cardinal did not speak, 
nor bid her rise. His whole thoughts were filled 
with her beauty, and the words she had spoken 
fell unheeded on his ear. The unholy passion, 
which had been smothered and not extinguished 
in his breast, blazed forth afresh. Hitherto, he 
had only seen Melanthe reserved and haughty, 
sternly reproving his impious advances, and with 
marble coldness restraining every word and look. 
But now the statue was warmed into life — he 
beheld her at his feet ; and the heart of the licen- 
tious Cardinal beat wildly, as he contemplated the 
touching graces with which her new character of 
suppliant had invested her. She was so perfectly 
beautiful as she knelt before him, her whole being 
animated with the passion of her entreaty, that the 
sated fancy of the profligate Borgia beamed again 



MELANTHE. 






into freshness on imagining the possibility of 
gaining the affection of a creature so passionate 
and so true. 

Wild as were the wishes that throbbed within 
his breast, they did not for an instant obscure the 
extraordinary perspicacity with which he was 
gifted. The heart of Melanthe was laid bare to 
his glance ; and he saw that, although fortune had 
thus led her to his feet, no feeling of love, or 
intention of compromise, had hastened her steps, j 
Strong in her uprightness, and resolute in her 
duty, the noble girl was there to pray for a father's 
life ; and for that alone. Yet, at that very moment, 
while any one less monstrous than the man before 
whom she knelt, would have pitied and respected, 
the base soul of the Cardinal was plotting her 
destruction. Ere he spoke again, his plan was 
decided. 

" Rise, I entreat,"" he said in his softest manner. 
" The heart of Borgia is not of stone, that it is 
thus difficult to soften. Of what crime was 
Elphenor specially accused ? " 

" Of conspiracy against his Holiness and the 
Roman state,'' replied Melanthe. 



MELANTHE. 23 

"It is Strange," observed Borgia, anxious to 
appear ignorant of a secret of which he had always 
been possessed ; — " it is most strange, that until 
now I never should have heard of his case. And 
he is alone ? " 

" Alas ! no ! " replied Melanthe ; *' many others 
were confined with him at the same time ; but, with 
the exception of some few, their fate is unknown. 
Surely the mercy I implore for him will extend 
also to his companions," she added timidly, for the 
horrors of the prison were still present to her 
mind. 

" Doubtless," answered the Cardinal, withdraw- 
ing his gaze from the face of Melanthe, as he 
beheld the blushes which covered it on perceiving 
his look of admiration ; " doubtless their claims to 
pardon will be carefully examined. The Holy 
Church is merciful — and I, as one of its Fathers, 
have some power. But," he continued, changing 
his manner to one of secrecy and confidence, " were 
I to exert this power too openly, it might defeat 
its own end. Will you promise, that if I swear to 
liberate your father, the means by which his 
freedom has been obtained shall remain for ever a 



24 MELANTHE. 

secret? I would prove to you that the past is 
forgotten, and that no rancour dwells within the 
heart whose affection you rejected. — Will you 
promise what I ask ? ^' 

The air of Borgia was so true, his manner so 
free from any appearance of design or hesitation, 
that Melanthe, notwithstanding her distrust, was 
completely deceived by it. 

" I will promise,"" she said, *' and may Heaven 
reward you for these words ! "" 

" Have you no fear ? "^ asked the Cardinal, 
wishing still more securely to engage her unre- 
sisting confidence ; " have you no fear of the 
sincerity of one who had vowed to persecute 
you r 

" No," replied Melanthe ; " I have said that I 
trusted you." 

" Do you not think it possible,- that this promise 
of succour to your father may be but a feint — a 
feint to delude you into the power of one whose 
love you have scorned ? " 

" No," said Melanthe steadily ; but the Cardinal 
could see that a shudder passed over her. " The 
nature of man is not so base. Man — responsible 



:\1ELANTHE. 25 

to his Creator for the uses of his power — could not 
be so cowardly, or so vile. Cardinal, I am not 
afraid ; " and M elan the, as she spoke, filled with 
the elevation of soul engendered by the sublime 
consciousness of virtue, held out her hand to the 
Cardinal, in token of the confidence she reposed in 
his honour. 

The lips of Borgia scarcely touched the fingers 
of Melanthe, as he bowed his head before her ; but 
the fire which rushed through his veins had nearly 
overpowered his reason. It was the delirium of 
passion, and anticipation of revenge, and not the 
sting of conscience, nor the pity of a relenting heart, 
which had momentarily mastered the spirit of the 
Cardinal. Soon recovering his wonted composure, 
he continued : — " I am flattered by your assurance, 
and now, to put your veracity to the proof, I will 
pray you to recount to me the manner in which 
you contrived to penetrate the prison walls, hitherto 
deemed inaccessible to strangers."" 

Melanthe, without hesitation, related to him the 
circumstances attendant upon her admission, ac- 
companying the recital with an urgent entreaty 
that no blame should be imputed to Ramiro. 

VOL. III. c 



MELANTHE. 



The Cardinal listened patiently, though at times 
a look of savage joy lighted up his features, as his 
eye glanced towards some object which lay upon 
his table. Melanthe, engrossed by her own anxiety, 
did not observe the movement, and concluded her 
recital with a prayer for the pardon of Ramiro, 
should the act of her admittance to the prison have 
been an infringement of its rules. 

" He shall not only have pardon, but reward," 
was the answer of Borgia, as, turning from 
Melanthe, to conceal the demoniacal smile which he^ 
could not suppress, he rang a small silver bell 
which lay upon a table beside him. The same 
secretary, who had conducted Melanthe to the 
presence of the Cardinal, appeared in answer to his 
summons ; and Borgia hastily writing a few words 
upon a slip of paper, delivered it with a short 
sentence in the Spanish language, which was unin- 
telligible to Melanthe. 

Soonafterthe secretary had retired, Ramiro entered 
the apartment. The old man was pale and trem- 
bling; yet having once perceived the presence of 
Melanthe, forbore again to look towards the spot 
where she sat ; for, terrified by the summons which 



MELANTHE. 



27 



had brought him eai'ly that morning to the palace 
of the Cardinal, he feared to implicate his bene- 
factress in the danger which he instinctively felt 
was hanging over him. How was he astonished, 
when, instead of the censure and condemnation 
which his disobedience had merited, the Cardinal, 
addressing him in gentle tones, inquired how long 
he had been gaoler of St. Angelo ? 

" Twenty-five years,'' replied Ramiro. 
*' Indeed," observed the Cardinal, who had the 
peculiar talent of appearing surprised at what he 
best knew. 

" It is a long time to have held the same office, 
and with unblemished fidelity." 

Ramiro, not deeming it prudent to criminate 
himself, merely bowed to this insinuated ques- 
tion ; and the Cardinal went on. " The Holy 
Church is bountiful to such of her servants as she 
can implicitly trust ; and the Signora," pointing 
to Melanthe, "has assured us of the inviolable 
faith with which Ramiro ever watches over his 
prisoners. Some reward is due to such long ser- 
vice." 



J20 MELANTHE. 

" I humbly thank your Eminence,"" said Ramiro, 
who was too much overcome by the delight of 
having escaped so easily, to articulate more than 
was absolutely necessary. 

" We will spare your thanks, my good friend,'"* 
said the Cardinal, as the same smile, though strongly 
repressed, gleamed across his face ; " and your 
fidelity shall have its reward. Take this key, and 
unlock yonder cabinet. Within, you will find what 
will render you independent of all earthly cares." 

Thus speaking, Borgia raised from the table a 
large golden key, the handle of which was set with 
jewels, and pointing to a cabinet of ebony, inlaid 
with marbles of various colours, which stood at 
the further end of the room, Ramiro advanced 
towards it, and inserted the key in the lock. For 
a few moments it resisted his endeavours to turn 
it, when Borgia, whose keen eye was fixed upon 
the old man, exclaimed, 

" Press harder, my good Ramiro ; he who locks, 
should surely be able to unlock."" 

Ramiro obeyed his instructions. He pressed 
the key; but, as it turned in the lock, and the 



MELAXTHE. S9 

doors flew open, he started, and withdrew his hand, 
from which, on holding it up, a few drops of blood 
fell upon the floor. 

" You have hurt yourself, I fear,'' said the 
Cardinal anxiousl}'. 

" No, it is nothing — a mere scratch, please your 
Eminence," answered Ramiro, at the same time 
putting his other hand to his forehead. 

" The gold within the cabinet is yours," said 
Borgia, pointing to the now open doors. 

" Where ?" said Ramiro, stupidly. 

" There, upon the shelves — do you not see it ?" 
asked Borgia, advancing towards him. 

" No ! it is dark — so dark," said Ramiro, extend- 
ing his arms, as if to support himself; and cold. 

" Help ! help ! " he muttered, in smothered 

tones. 

Melanthe sprung to his assistance ; but ere she 
could cross the room, he had sunk upon the floor; 
and when she knelt by his side, and took his hand, 
it fell heavily from her grasp. With a shudder, she 
leant across, and placed her fingers upon the old 

man's heart — there was no pulse Melanthe 

stealthily raising her eyes towards the Cardinal, 



30 MELANTHE. 

saw him wrap his hand in a handkerchief, as, with 
scrupulous care, he drew the golden key from the 
lock ; then by a secret spring the doors closed of 
themselves; and the murderer smiled, as he threw 
a careless glance on the body of poor Ramiro, 
whose reward indeed had been greater than his 

desert 

" We will leave Ramiro to the care of the 
physician," said Borgia, in the softest tone, as he 
took the hand of Melanthe, to lead her from the 
apartment. Melanthe, stupified with horror, obeyed 
mechanically ; for, as her eye caught the features 
of the corpse already fixing into rigidity, she 
thought of the lonely dungeon of St. Angelo, and 
the old man who sat there in chains. 



CHAPTER III. 

A FEW hurried words were all that now passed 
between the Cardinal and Melanthe. Receiving 
from Borgia the most solemn assurance that she 
would be conducted to a spot where, without 
danger, her father might immediately join her, she 
suffered herself to be placed within the litter, 
which, with its bearers, stood prepared in the hall 
of the palace. The curtains were drawn, and, 
sinking back upon the cushions, she resigned her- 
self to the feeling of necessity which now alone 
urged her forward. The horrible scene which she 
had just witnessed, although she dared not posi- 
tively affix to it the stigma of murder, had 
paralysed every power of resistance. She felt 
around her the deadly coils of the serpent, who 
needed but a symptom of fear, or shrinking, on the 
part of his victim, to crush her within his folds. 



32 MELANTHE. 

and passive obedience was all that now seemed 
left to her. 

Thus far the design of Borgia had been crowned 
with success. To terrify where he could not at 
once subdue, was part of his system ; and although 
the atrocity of which he had just been guilty had 
been planned before the visit of Melanthe could 
have been anticipated, no sooner was she in his 
presence, than he determined that such an ex- 
hibition of his power could not fail of striking 
with awe the mind which had hitherto so bravely 
sustained itself against his threats. 

The murder of Ramiro was only the prelude of 
many more, which history records of this san- 
guinary tyrant, Borgia. Poison, administered in 
every variety of form, was the mode in which he 
generally sought deliverance from his enemies, or 
those who might become such ; and it is a singular 
fact, that it was by the very means which he had 
so often adopted, that his own impious course was 
at last arrested ; and that while under the title of 
Alexander VI., and filling the Papal chair, to 
attain which he had not scrupled to commit the 
crimes of perjury, simony, and wholesale murder. 



> 



MELANTHE. 33 

he should at length, together with Cesare, his son, 
of equal notoriety in infamy, perish miserably 
from incautiously drinking some poisoned wine, 
set apart for the destruction of three Cardinals, 
whose immense wealth, in the event of their death 
(it being forbidden to them to dispose of their 
possessions by will) reverted to the Holy See*. 

The poisoned key was one of the favourite 
devices of Borgia. , The poison was contained in 
the handle ; and, as the lock of the cabinet was 
constructed expressly, a sharp pressure was neces- 
sary to open it ; this effort moved a spring, which 
raised a little pointed tube, that, penetrating the 
skin, injected into the veins venom of a nature 
so subtle that instantaneous death was the con- 
sequence. 

In those days, when might was law, and 
hypocrisy religion, none ventured to inquire far- 
ther. The physician of Borgia was summoned to 
view the corpse; and smiled as he beheld the 



* The names of the three Cardinals were Casanova, iMelchior 
Copis, and Adriano Castellense. The two last had oniy been 
recently created, and had paid to the Pope the enormous sum of 
40,000 ducats as the price of their election. 

c 5 



34 MELANTHE. 

potency of the drug he had himself compounded, 
and to which he owed the favour of the monster he 
served, who impiously daring to cover the deed he 
had done with the semblance of charity, always 
ordered masses to be sung for the soul of the 
deceased, and the expenses of the funeral to be 
defrayed out of his own purse. It was done ; — and 
if, within the secret recesses of the human breast, 
some spirit struggled to cry aloud, and curse the 
fiend beneath whose might it trembled, the dastard 
fear of torture and of death rose up, and froze 
the words upon his lips. 

The discovery of Elphenor by Melanthe threa- 
tened to annihilate the plans which Borgia had 
originally formed ; and, rendered frantic by the 
unexpected circumstance, the punishment of poor 
Ramiro, through whose means it had occurred, 
was the first step necessary to the vengeance of the 
Cardinal. The next which he meditated was the 
destruction of Elphenor : but this was deferred ; 
for the sudden appearance of Melanthe had so 
completely disturbed the senses of Borgia, that 
love, with all its fever and inconsistency, took 
possession of his breast more forcibly than ever. 



MELANTHE. 35 

His projects of vengeance were laid aside, and, 
now certain of his prey, he waited, in security and 
silence, but the moment to bend her spirit to his 
will. 

Melanthe was so deeply plunged in the lethargy 
of helplessness which her strange situation engen- 
dered, that, during the journey which had been 
thus unexpectedly forced upon her, she made no 
effort to discover towards what quarter of the city 
she was borne. Apparently the place of her des- 
tination was at some distance from the palace of 
the Cardinal, for, by the movement of her litter, she 
guessed that its bearers had more than once been 
changed. At length they stood still, and the 
curtains being withdrawn, she found herself at the 
door of an apartment, into which she was ushered 
with much courtesy by a grave and matronly per- 
sonage, the kindness of whose manner somewhat 
re-assured her visitor. Further communication 
seemed, however, impossible, for upon addressing 
an inquiry to her companion relative to the situa- 
tion of the house in which she now found herself, 
the woman shook her head, and muttered a few 
words in Spanish, a language unknown to Melanthe, 



36 MELANTHE. 

but which, from being the native tongue of Borgia, 
convinced her that the house to which she had been 
conducted belonged to him. The woman quitted 
the room, and soon returning, laid upon the table a 
variety of fruits and other refreshments, with wine, 
after which Melanthe remained alone. 

Hour after hour glided by, and yet no tidings 
from the city reached her. At one moment she 
would chide her own impatience, and consider that 
the event for which she pined could not so speedily 
be accomplished ; and at another, she sat with 
uplifted head watching for every sound, as the 
haste with which she had been conducted to her 
present abode seemed to leave little doubt that the 
liberation of Elphenor would be immediate ; and 
that, for better security, the Cardinal would pro- 
bably accompany him. Still the hours passed on, 
and the silence around her continued unbroken. 

Wearied by expectation, Melanthe rose from her 
seat, and endeavoured to discover what was the 
nature of the spot in which she was immured. But 
her hope was vain. The windows were at such a 
height from the floor that it was impossible to reach 
them ; and round the walls of the circular apart- 



MELANTHE. 37 

ment she hopelessly sought for the door by which 
she had entered. Not a flaw was to be discovered 
in the rich hangings of crimson velvet which deco- 
rated the walls, and the borders, of jasper and gold, 
alike presented to the eye of Melanthe a surface so 
even and perfect, that she soon perceived it was not 
possible they could conceal an entrance to the room. 
This discovery filled her with uneasiness, and she 
now remarked, for the first time, the paintings 
which decorated the ceiling and the walls, and the 
general air of luxury pervading the apartment. 
The impression was peculiarly distasteful to her, 
and she returned to her seat and gave herself up to 
the sadness of her reflections. There was more of 
despondency in her heart than she would have 
dared to confess to herself at a time when she anti- 
cipated a reunion with her father ; but, from the 
moment when the dying glance of Ramiro had met 
her view, distrust had gone far to annihilate the 
confidence with which the words and manner of 
the Cardinal had before inspired her. 

The day so eventful in the fate of Melanthe was 
now drawing to a close, the fitful blaze of the wood 
fire, and the glimmer of the stars through the high 



38 MELANTHE. 

windows had for some time alone lighted the 
apartment, when a sudden glare aroused its solitary 
inmate, and she turned her head just in time to see 
two of the large mirrors placed round the walls 
disappear as if by magic, giving to view an alcove, 
arranged with the most exquisite taste as a sleeping 
apartment. The soft light of the alabaster lamps 
fell upon the draperies of pale blue velvet, bordered 
with silver fringe ; and Melanthe was still gazing 
with wonder at this sudden apparition, when the 
Spanish attendant, who had received her on her ar- 
rival, entered from the alcove, followed by a Moorish 
page, who presented sweetmeats and wine, while 
the woman busied herself with the arrangement of 
lamps in various parts of the room. It was a scene 
of enchantment; yet Melanthe would fain have 
exchanged its glories for the shelter of the meanest 
hovel, where she could have laid, down her weary 
head in freedom and security. Loathing the splen- 
dour by which she was surrounded, she hastily 
declined all that was offered to her ; and feeling it 
to be the only way of avoiding the officiousness of 
her attendants, she endeavoured by signs to make 
them understand that all she desired was repose. 



MELAXTHE. 39 

The well-trained menials instantly disappeared ; 
and Melanthe, letting fall the light curtain which 
shaded the alcove, threw herself upon the couch, 
and, worn out by the anxiety which she had so long 
endured, was soon asleep. 



CHAPTER IV. 

Some hours after Melanthe had found in repose 
a cessation of her care, a shadow passed across the 
almost transparent curtain which veiled the entrance 
to the alcove. It was the shadow of a human form : 
— noiselessly it had glided to the spot, and noise- 
lessly it paused for a few seconds; then, as if 
assured by the regular breathing, which was dis- 
tinctly audible, that the occupant of the couch 
slept soundly, a gentle hand drew aside the curtain, 
and the form of the stranger appeared. 

The form was that of a woman, of a beauty so 
dazzling, that the eye, as it gazed upon her, seemed 
to ache from the perfection which left it no point 
of doubt upon which to rest. The stranger ad- 
vanced, and bending over the couch of Melanthe, 
seemed attentively to scan every line of the lovely 



MELANTHE. 41 

features before her ; and then, as if unsatisfied, 
raised a small alabaster lamp, and turning its ray 
upon the couch, gently withdrew the covering 
which shaded the throat and arms of the sleeper. 
The hands of the young girl were crossed upon 
her breast; but so lightly, that its rise and fall 
were distinctly visible ; and the rich vermilion of 
the full and slightly parted lips, the placid brow, 
with the deep shadow of the fringed eye-lids, be- 
tokened repose so tranquil, that none could have 
deemed a thought of sorrow or of guilt had ever 
found a moment's resting place within that breast 

It was the sleep of innocence — of youth — of 
hope ; and the beautiful being, who watched above, 
half smiled as she gazed admiringly upon it ; but 
the smile was followed by a sigh, so heartfelt, that 
it changed for an instant the expression of a face 
naturally beaming with a gentle tenderness. 
Though apparently little older than Melanthe, the 
more rounded figure, and calm dignity of the 
stranger, gave her a somewhat more matronly air. 

Her beauty was of a cast most rare in her land ; 
for she was brilliantly fair, with eyes of the deepest 



42 MELANTHE. 

blue, and masses of chestnut hair falling in luxu- 
riance upon her shoulders. The splendour of her 
dress, which was a robe of purple silk, bordered 
with silver and pearls, spoke of some festive scene 
which she appeared to have just quitted ; but the 
look of sadness, which might be traced upon her 
lovely face, was at variance with her beauty and 
her state. 

For a few moments only she paused in contem- 
plation of the charms of the sleeper, which pre- 
sented so strong a contrast to her own, then gently 
taking her hand, she drew it towards her. The 
movement awakened Melanthe, who, raising her- 
self upon her couch, looked with a bewildered air 
upon the lovely apparition before her. 

" Do not be alarmed," said the stranger, softly ; 
" I come as a friend." 

*' Then there is danger," exclaimed Melanthe, 
grasping the hand of her companion. 

" There is !" said the stranger, solemnly. 

" And you have come to save me ? Oh ! tell me 
where I am." 

" Is it possible that you do not know ?" said the 



MELANTHE. 43 

lady, gravely, while an air of distrust overspread 
her face. 

" Not exactly ; but I believe in the house of the 
Cardinal Borgia. I came hither by his orders, and 
under the expressed assurance that my father would 
be restored to liberty, and meet me here.'' 

" Where is your father? I thought you were 
the daughter of Hassan the merchant ?" 

" His daughter only by adoption," replied Me- 
lanthe. " My father is Elphenor.'' 

" And who is Elphenor ?'"* asked the lady. 

" A Greek," replied Melanthe. "He was the 
faithful friend and servant of Constantine. After 
the siege of Constantinople, he took refuge here, 
but was thrown into prison, where, for years, he 
has languished. It was only yesterday I knew 
that he lived. He bade me seek the Cardinal. I 
did so : he promised his instant release, and under 
that promise I am here." 

" Is this the fact ?" asked the stranger, fixing a 
stern look upon Melanthe. " Had you no other 
motive ?" 

" None. Oh ! do not say I have been deceived. 



44« MELANTHE. 

You spoke of danger/'' added Melanthe, looking 
round timidly. " Was it to me, or to my father P""* 

" To both," said the lady, gravely, " or to 
neither ; it will depend upon yourself." 

" Oh ! speak," cried Melanthe ; " tell me how I 
may avoid it, and my heart will bless you." 

" Are you prepared to make the sacrifice re- 
quired ?" 

" For any thing," exclaimed Melanthe, " to save 
my father, and avoid the " 

" Avoid the Cardinal," said the lady, quickly, as 
she observed the hesitation of Melanthe. " He has 
then persecuted you, — made offers of love, which 
you have rejected, — and you fear his power;" she 
continued: but, as she spoke, the breathless 
earnestness of her manner increased, till an expres- 
sion of agony contracted her lovely features, as 
though upon the answer she awaited, hung her 
very existence. " Speak," she added, almost 
fiercely, as Melanthe, dreading some new decep- 
tion, paused ere she gave utterance to a secret 
which was to her so full of horror. 

*' Speak ! Is it not so ? or, " and the face of 



MELANTHE. 45 

the lady grew ghastly pale, as, in a hoarse whisper, 
she added, " Is it that you love him, and tliat it is 
yourself you fear ?" 

The proud heart of Melanthe revolted at these 
words, from the interest with which she had at first 
regarded her companion. 

" Who are you ?'' she said, gently ; " and by what 
right do you thus question one who is a stranger to 
you ?" 

" A sinful and degraded being; and it is to 
prevent your becoming that which I am, that I 
have now sought you," answered the lady. 

" Ah !"" exclaimed Melanthe ; and, as if by an 
instinctive movement, she withdrew her hand from 
that of her companion. 

The cheek of the beautiful lady reddened ; but 
there was no anger in her tone, as she exclaimed 
passionately, " Yes, shrink from me — despise me — 
but listen to me. If you would not one day curse 
the hour of your birth — yourself — the world, ay, 
even the beauty of your children, smiling to your 
eyes, lest it should lead them to become the same 
wretched thing as yourself.*" 

" Forgive me ; oh ! forgive me,'' said Melanthe, 



46 MELANTHE. 

kindly pressing the hand of the stranger within 
her own. For a few moments, the sobs of the 
unhappy woman alone broke the silence ; but re- 
covering herself, she said, 

" You ask me who I am ? Alas I could I feel 
joy, it would be to find that one being in Rome 
knows not the name of the wretched Vanozia ! 
Would you hear my tale ? Org do these tears speak 
plainly enough the sorrow it contains ?" 

" If sympathy can soothe it — then speak,'' said 
Melanthe, whose heart bled for the unhappiness of 
the beautiful creature who seemed so deeply to feel 
her situation. 

" I will speak,"" she said, endeavouring so stifle 
her sobs, " though for years I have suffered in 
silence. Yes, young as I am, ten years have passed, 
since I listened to the deceiving words of him who 
has this day lured you hither. I was an orphan and 
his ward — nobly born as himself ; and I loved him 
with a love that can end but in the grave. We 
were married. Yes," she repeated, as she observed 
the sudden start of Melanthe, at the word, ' Mar- 
ried !' " Lulled by his assurances that a dispensation 
from the Pope had been granted in our favour, we 



MELANTHE. 47 

were married, and for some time lived in Spain, shut 
out from the world. His uncle, the Pope, summoned 
him to Rome. We came ; and soon — oh, how soon 
I awoke from the dream of joy in which, as a wife 
and a mother, I had passed delicious years, to 
find,'' she continued, as, drawing nearer to the ear 
of Melanthe, and grasping her hand, as if in agony, 
she lowered her voice almost to a whisper, " I had 
been deceived — to find my children cut off from 
their rights, and myself a mistress, not a wife ! 
— and a mistress neglected and unloved." 

" Alas ! what bitter grief !" said Melanthe, 
whose tears flowed fast for a fate apparently so 
undeserved. 

" Bitter indeed — bitter in its grandeur as in its 
desolation ! Bitter, when the pampered menial, 
and greedy sycophant, bow beneath my feet — 
dreadful, when, in the solemn stillness of the night, 
the soft winds, as they pass, seem to breathe the curse 
of God upon a love forbidden by His word ! Bitter, 
to think upon my sin — but maddening to behold 
the indifference of him for whose sake I am thus 
wretched. Oh ! ye who vainly dream that man is 
grateful for the love ye give, take warning by me ! 



48 MET.AKTHE. 

The love that is unholy is cursed of God ! and, 
cherish it as you will, day by day shall ye behold 
it fade before your eyes — day by day shall ye watch, 
with every nerve strung to madness, over your 
perishing treasure; and the spirit that would 
remonstrate, and the lip that would complain, shall 
quiver and sink beneath the blast of indifference, 
and the crushing weight of satiety !" 

Vanozia paused, overcome by the picture she had 
drawn of her own fate, and, burying her face in 
her hands, wept aloud. Melanthe, whose generous 
mind could well sympathize with the sufferings of 
a modest and virtuous nature, thus tortured by the 
weakness of passion and the sense of sin, raised 
herself upon her couch, and drawing the head of 
the beautiful stranger to her bosom, poured forth 
words of comfort, and endeavoured to lead her, by 
hopes of forgiveness, to repentance, and desire of 
amendment. 

" No ! no r replied Vanozia convulsively, " I 
cannot leave him. Am I not the mother of his 
children ? Lucrezia ! Francesco ! Cesare ! my 
beauteous children. Could I tear myself from 
them ? Oh, no ! In the sight of Heaven I am his 



MELANTHE. 49 

wife, and faithful T will always remain ; and — 
besides — deceived as I have been, I love him — 
still." 

M elan the, who saw that in these words lay the 
real weight of the tie, which to her mind ought to 
have been dissolved, upon the discovery of its 
unholy nature, endeavoured to combat the resolu- 
tion of Vanozia, by exposing to her the sophistry 
of her own arguments; but all was vain. The mind 
of the unhappy woman was too much weakened by 
a gnawing consciousness of her fault, to struggle 
against her grief; and Melanthe forbore to insist, 
when she saw conviction was hopeless, and could 
only offer up a secret prayer that power from above 
might be given to poor Vanozia, so to separate in 
her misery the consequences from the crime, that 
the spirit of true repentance might enter into her 
heart ! For a few moments, neither of those, who 
had thus suddenly been made friends by their mis- 
fortunes, could find courage to speak, until Vanozia 
starting exclaimed, 

" Fool — fool, that I am, to waste the present 
time in talking of the past. I came to save you, 
and my selfish grief has led me from my path, 

VOL. III. D 



50 MELANTHE. 

But," she continued, again fixing upon Melanthe a 
look of distracted fear, " what if you too should 
have deceived me ? if you should be my enemy ?" 

" Do not give way to such a thought,"" said 
Melanthe, who trembled lest Vanozia should again 
question her as to the conduct of Borgia towards 
her. " Do not suspect me, but point out the road 
for my escape from the danger to which you say I 
am exposed, and I will at once follow your advice.*" 

" Will you leave Rome instantly ? Yes, within 
this hour, and for ever ?" asked Vanozia. 

" Never !'"* cried Melanthe ; " you forget my 
father lies in a dungeon ; who shall aid him, if I 
abandon him ?" 

" I will," said Vanozia solemnly. " By all that 
I hold most dear — by the memory of departed 
happiness — by the life of my children, the only joy 
that is left to me — I swear that if you will depart 
instantly, your father shall be free to join you 
wheresoever you may be." 

" Alas ! " said Melanthe ; " the same tale that 
deluded me hither ! " 

" Girl," said Vanozia almost fiercely, " do you 
doubt me ? " 



MELAXTHE. 51 

" I am a stranger — why should I trust you ? " 
asked Mel an the. 

" But I would save you," said Vanozia. " A 
little while, and it may be too late. You know 
not what you risk, nor would I sully your maiden 
ear by a recital — but have you no fear — no fear,'' 
she continued anxiously, as again a jealous pang 
shot through her heart, " that you may be taught 
to love — that he who has persuaded others may 
also persuade you '"' 

" No," interrupted Melanthe, " of that I have 
no fear. I have a talisman — a safeguard — I love 
another ! '"* 

The burst of tears with which Vanozia received 
this declaration, too plainly told the violence of the 
feelings which she had striven to repress. The 
extravagance of joy which broke forth, as her worst 
fears were dispelled, would have terrified Melanthe, 
had she too not known the strength of that passion 
which at times defies reason or control ; and she 
gazed with pity upon the wretched woman, whose 
chance of happiness was so small, that even the 
removal of an unwilling rival from her path was a 
source of transport to her. 



LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 



52 MELANTHE. 

The mutual distrust of Vanozia and Melanthe 
had now vanished ; and the former hastily detailed 
the plan by which she calculated upon securing 
the release of Elphenor. Her power over the Car- 
dinal was unbounded, with the exception of the 
one point, for which she would have sacrificed all 
others ; and Vanozia, whose disposition was natu- 
rally amiable and good, continued to the end of 
her days to interpose between Borgia and his 
victims. Before long, she had contrived to prove 
the truth of her assertions ; and Melanthe humbly 
lifted up her heart to Heaven for the timely succour 
which had so unexpectedly reached her. 

At first she hesitated as to the expediency of 
revealing her suspicions with regard to Hassan ; 
but the prospect of her absence from Rome 
prompted her to leave nothing undone which 
might conduce to the safety of one who was 
scarcely second in her affections to Elphenor. 
Vanozia readily undertook the office, promising 
also to convey secretly to Mariana the intelligence 
of the departure of Melanthe. Convinced that a 
sincere desire to serve her existed in the bosom of 
her new friend, as well as anxietv to secure her 



MELANTHE. 53 

departure from Rome, Melanthe suffered Vanozia 
to make the preparations for her journey, which 
the hurry of the moment required. The disguise 
of a peasant had been procured by her ; and 
Melanthe, covering lier own dress with the loose 
robe and mantle which would effectually prevent 
her from being recognised, soon stood ready for 
departure. Aware of the danger to which poverty 
might expose her during her journey, Vanozia had 
clasped the pearls which she wore round the neck 
of the poor girl, who was thus compelled to fly 
unaided from the storm ; and giving her also a 
purse of gold, she carefully repeated the instruc- 
tions as to the path she was to follow on quitting 
the house, to enable her to find the horses and 
attendants which Vanozia had prepared for her 
flight. 

'• And now,'^ said Vanozia, when all was ready, 
" a few hours will place you beyond danger ; — 
and then, whither will you go ? ^ 

" To Florence," said Melanthe ; and the deep 
blush which dyed her cheek again brought comfort 
to the heart of Vanozia, for she thought of Lorenzo 
de' Medici, and of his recent visit to Rome. Not 



54 MELANTHE. 

having questioned Melanthe as to the object of 
lier aiFection, she naturally concluded, from the 
readiness of her answer, that Lorenzo was the 
person. 

Joy is sometimes selfish as well as grief. In the 
delight of findinfr that the inclination of Melanthe 
so fully seconded her own desires, Vanozia forgot 
to inquire further into the future plans or hopes of 
Melanthe ; and having agreed with her as to an 
appointed plan of communication, which the ac- 
quaintance of Vanozia with the localities of 
Florence enabled her to form, she led her from the 
room, and tai<:ing a key from her girdle she opened 
a panel in the wall leading to a private staircase. 
They descended in safety ; and after many turnings 
and windings in the dark, a short flight of steps 
broufjht them to a grated door. In another 
moment Melanthe had parted from her friend, and 
Vanozia, in breathless haste, regained the apartment 
she had quitted, and endeavoured to compose 
herself, ere she should return to the banquet, 
where she had left Borgia, surrounded by his 
dissolute companions. 

It was a dreadful life — and wretched indeed was 



MELANTHE. 55 

the fate of poor Vanozia ; but her wretchedness 
had not yet reached its height, and dark were the 
days that were in store for her, when the three 
children of whom she was the doating mother, 
should vie with each other in the commission of 
crimes so appalling, that even the black deeds of 
their father paled before the horrible vices of his 
offspring. 



CHAPTER V. 

Although trembling with fear and haste, and 
with scarcely sufficient light to guide her on her 
way, Melanthe could not forbear pausing to look 
back upon the house she had just quitted. The 
outline of a high wall was all she could distinguish. 
In vain did she endeavoured to trace some form of 
tower or gateway, by which she imagined she might 
recognise the spot where she stood ; one dark mass 
stood before her, and as she turned again to pursue 
her lonely way, the faint gleam of the white road 
alone served to show her that the path she followed 
was that which had been described by Vanozia. 

A small wood was the place of concealment, 
where she expected to find the attendants and 
horses, but the gloom appeared to increase every 
instant : and soon it became impossible for her to 
distinguish any distant object. 



MELANTHE. 57 

Unappalled by a circumstance which would have 
struck terror to the heart of many, Melanthe con- 
tinued steadily to advance, actually groping her 
way with outstretched arms, until the tediousness of 
such a progress made the distance appear double 
what she had been taught to expect. Still, such 
was the confidence with which the earnestness and 
truth of Vanozia had inspired her, that not for a 
moment did she doubt or hesitate, and was soon 
rewarded for her courage by the sound of voices. 
She prudently paused to listen ; but the stamping 
of the horses upon the hard ground betokened their 
impatience, and Melanthe, hastily drawing near, 
exclaimed, as she had been desired by Vanozia, 

" Nicolo, are the horses ready ?" 

'' Yes, Signora, they have been so for more than 
two hours," was the ready answer. 

" And Giannetta ?" inquired Melanthe. 

" She is ready mounted, behind yon thicket,"' 
replied Nicolo, as he struck some sparks from a 
flint, and lighted a small lamp ; but Melanthe, 
secure from all mistake, begged him to extinguish 
the light, and having, by his assistance, mounted 
D 5 



58 MELANTHK. 

her horse, proceeded with her companions across 
the Cam pan a. 

For many hours they pursued their journey 
almost in silence, Melanthe only inquiring from 
time to time the distance they had gained, and 
whether, admidst the darkness, Nicolo was sure 
of his road. But the answers she received soon 
quieted all fear upon the subject. The path 
seemed as familiar to Nicolo by night as by day ; 
and it was with a gesture of pride, which provoked 

smile from Melanthe, that, as a faint gleam 
lighted up the East, he pointed to the outline 
of a dense wood, which he had frequently men- 
tioned during the darkness as a fitting resting 
place. Beneath the shade of its trees the travellers 
remained for some hours ; and then, mounting 
their horses, continued their journey. A few hours 
ride brought them to the small town of Civita 
Castellana, where, in a house situated in one of 
the most obscure streets, they sought shelter for 
the night. 

Here they were detained for many days by the 
severe illness of Melanthe. The violent excitement 



MELANTHE. 59 

she had lately undergone, added to the exertion of 
a hurried journey, brought on a fever, by which 
she was so much weakened, that, when at length 
she recovered, it became obvious to Nicolo, who 
felt himself responsible for her safety, that it would 
be utterly impossible for her to proceed upon her 
journey with the same rapidity as at first. The 
injunctions of Vanozia, and the immense bribe by 
which she had secured the services and promised 
silence of himself and Giannetta, had impressed 
upon the mind of Nicolo a vast idea of the im- 
portance of his charge ; and during the illness of 
Melanthe he had scarcely absented himself for a 
moment from the dwelling she inhabited. 

It was not, therefore, without considerable 
alarm that he perceived that, both by night and 
day, a solitary figure hovered within sight, yet 
without ever approaching sufficiently near the 
house for him to distinguish more than the large 
cloak and riding hat which was constantly worn 
by travellers of all descriptions. But to discover 
the station or business of the stranger formed no 
part of the intentions of Nicolo. His orders were 



60 MELANTHE. 

to protect Melanthe from danger, and to conduct 
her withersoever she might wish to go ; and as he 
had already been informed by her that Florence 
was the place of her destination, he required no 
further directions, and prepared to set out the 
moment she should be sufficiently recovered. 

It was, however, more than a fortnight ere the 
travellers again pursued their journey ; and the 
patience of Nicolo was almost exhausted by re- 
peated disappointments, for the strength of Melan- 
the seemed to fluctuate without any apparent 
reason, and more than once she had been obliged 
to return to her bed upon the very day named for 
their departure. At length they quitted the town, 
and Nicolo could scarcely refrain from a look of 
exultation as he led his charge safely through the 
gates, and saw at a little distance the same 
shrouded figure, evidently intent, upon watching 
their movements. 

The terrible anxiety which secretly preyed upon 
Melanthe, had rendered delay almost insupportable. 
All her hopes rested upon the thought of reaching 
Florence. Once there, she would find no difficulty 



MELANTHE. 61 

in discovering Montesecco ! and should the intelli- 
gence which she expected to receive from Vanozia 
respecting the liberation of Elphenor, not prove as 
satisfactory as her words had led her to hope, 
Melanthe determined to appeal to the promised 
friendship of Lorenzo de' Medici, and entreat his 
interference with the Pope in behalf of her father. 
Uninformed of the events that had occurred during 
her seclusion, she little thought that she was flying 
for protection to one whom the Pope now regarded 
as a bitter enemy. Happy in her ignorance of the 
impending tragedy, Melanthe journeyed on, recall- 
ing to mind the many noble traits she had admired 
in the character of Lorenzo, and building upon the 
faith she had experienced of his lofty nature a cer- 
tainty of generous forgiveness for her rejection of 
his love, and a comforting anticipation of succour. 

Far different were her reflections as her mind 
turned to the Cardinal ; and she pictured to herself 
his rage upon the discovery of her evasion. The 
veil had now fallen from her eyes. The appear- 
ance of the beautiful and unhappy Vanozia, whose 
sorrow and degradation had brought forcibly before 



02 MELANTHE. 

her the picture of her own fate, had fear or weakness 
induced her to listen to Borgia, proved to Melanthe 
that the step she had now taken was the only one 
in which she could hope for safety. The horrible 
character of him from whom she fled, stood out 
in all its naked deformity ; and as she recollected 
the interview which had taken place between 
them in the convent of the Speranza, she shud- 
dered to think that the same delusion of a false 
and impossible marriage, had already effected the 
misery of a being so naturally innocent as Vanozia 
appeared to be. Thankful to have escaped a 
danger so fearful and dark, Melanthe once more 
felt the revival of hope in her bosom, and counted 
the hours which must elapse before she should 
reach Forence ; but her strength did not keep pace 
with her impatience. Two days riding had only 
brought the travellers to the foot of the mountains. 
The ascent must be tedious, and Nicolo strongly 
endeavoured to persuade Melanthe to take a day's rest 
before she attempted a ride so fatiguing to one in 
her weak state : but she would not be controlled ; 
and assuring her conductors that her sufferings 



MELANTHE. 



would only be increased by delay, she at once 
determined to proceed, hoping to reach before 
nightfall, a small inn of which Nicolo had spoken, 
and which was only a few miles distant. 

The beautiful scenery of the Appenines was new 
to Melanthe, and as she rode forward, she forgot 
her fatigue in the delight she experienced at the 
splendid views which opened before her. They had 
soon reached a point from which she could look 
back upon the vast expanse of country which she 
had traversed. Before her, were the defiles of the 
mountains ; and above her head, in all the majesty 
of their grandeur, towered forests of pine and oak, 
from the masses of which stood out the moss-grown 
crags of gigantic though picturesque forms. Struck 
by the enchanting beauty of the spot, Melanthe 
had reined up her horse, and stood for a short 
time inquiring from the attentive and intelligent 
Nicolo the names of the principal points of view, 
when, just as she turned her horse's head to 
proceed, a sharp whistle caused the animal to start. 
Nicolo sprung to her side ; but scarcely had he 
seized her rein, when another whistle from below 
was answered from either side, and in an instant a 



64 MELANTHE. 

score of armed men rushed from the thickets, and 
the travellers were surrounded. 

"The Brigands! Mercy — Mercy,"" screamed 
Giannetta, as she endeavoured to force her horse 
forwards, or backwards, or any way in which he 
might contrive to extricate her from the ferocious 
looking band by which they were encircled ; but 
all was vain. Whichever way she turned, a dagger 
was raised before her eyes ; and it soon became 
obvious to her, although bewildered by terror, 
that her best course was to follow the example of 
Melanthe, and quietly to submit, where resistance 
was useless. 

As to Nicolo, he was rapidly exhausting his store 
of invectives and imprecations upon those around, 
who, in the first onset, without giving him time to 
draw his knife, had pinioned him so effectually 
that he sat upon his horse in the most ludicrously 
helpless manner. The fears of Giannetta almost 
gave way to laughter as she beheld him ; but very 
soon, all other feelings were merged in grief for the 
lamentation which broke forth from Melanthe, as 
she perceived the intention of her captors to 
separate her from her attendants. 



MELANTHE. 65 

Hitherto, the demeanour of the brigands had 
been marked by the most gentle deference towards 
her, several having stood passively round, while 
one only laid his hand upon her rein : but the 
instant she attempted to offer any resistance, the 
scene changed ; and, on a sign from their chief, four 
men sprung forward, and seizing the bridle, forced 
the horse of Melanthe to advance rapidly in an 
opposite direction from that in which she had been 
travelling ; while, as she turned a despairing glance 
towards her companions in misfortune, she perceived 
that they also were compelled to quit their road, 
and take a side path which appeared to lead up the 
mountain. Even in that moment of terror, when 
breathless with excitement from the suddenness of 
the attack, Melanthe found time to envy the desti- 
nation of all not forced to follow the same road as 
herself; for, in answer to lier repeated entreaties 
that they would tell her to what part of the world 
they were thus so forcibly hurrying her, the man, 
who appeared to act as chief of the party, had 
pointed forwards, and uttered the single word 
" Rome !'' 



CHAPTER VI. 

The sickness of despair fell upon the heart of 
Melanthe, as the idea of returning to the spot 
polluted by the presence of the Cardinal entered 
her mind. The hope which had sustained her 
during her flight died away, as she contemplated 
the certain danger and difficulty which would 
attend her restoration to the power of her enemy. 
So convinced was she now of the almost miraculous 
influence exercised by Borgia, that she felt that 
once again within the walls of Rome, escape would 
be impossible. And she trembled, and shrunk? 
at the thought of the solitary house and the warn- 
ings of Vanozia, till, from the future, she turned 
her thoughts to the present. 

So absorbing had been the anticipation of her 
fate, that she had scarcely observed the conduct of 
those who had thus suddenly become its arbiters. 
She found herself closely surrounded by twelve 



MELANTHE. 67 

armed men, whose picturesque costume led her to 
suppose that they were the Brigands of whom she 
had heard so much, but who seldom ventured near 
enough to the city to be recognised. He, who 
seemed the chief in command, was in no way dis- 
tinguished by his dress from his^ companions ; 
and Melanthe, gathering from some expressions 
which escaped him, as she endeavoured to draw 
him into conversation, that they only formed part 
of a body, gazed anxiously round, in the hope of 
discovering, in any change of position, some chance 
of escape. 

They had quitted the road by which she had 
ascended the mountain ; and although still advancing 
in the direction of Rome, she perceived that they 
had turned considerably to the right, and had 
entered a narrow defile overhung by a dense wood. 
The object of their route soon became apparent, 
for after little more than an hour's riding, the same 
shrill whistle she had heard at the moment of her 
capture was repeated, and in an instant afterwards 
everal bandits sprung from their cover, and the 
little party was surrounded. All eyes were rivetted 
on their captive ; but the demeanour of the 



68 MELANTHE. 

brigands was so different from that whicli she had 
often heard ascribed to them, that Melanthe, filled 
with wonder, forgot her fears ; and as she beheld the 
inquisitive, but yet not disrespectful glances cast upon 
her by the dark browed desperadoes around, and 
listened to the deferential language of him whom she 
now easily recognised as their Captain, as he assured 
her that she should be treated with all the care 
and courtesy which was in their power to bestow, 
felt as though some secret talisman had suddenly 
been entrusted to her, by which these wild spirits 
of the mountain had been soothed into an unna- 
tural calm 

Although relieved from immediate fear, a sense 
of helplessness fell upon her, as she thought of her 
isolated position, and she faltered forth a petition, 
that the company of her faithful attendants, Nicolo 
and Giannetta, might be granted to her. 

" Lady, it is impossible," was the only answer 
she could extract from the Captain, who had 
replaced the inferior officer, and now walked by 
her bridle rein. 

" I will reward you for it. See, I have the 
means," said Melanthe, as, bending forward, she 



MELANTHE. 69 

displayed for an instant to the eyes of the Captain 
the magnificent pearls which Vanozia had clasped 
round her neck. The brigand turned a hasty 
glance upon the jewels, yet only shook his head, 
and Melanthe replaced the pearls within her dress. 
Quick as had been the movement, it had not passed 
unobserved ; but the presence of their Captain 
restrained the men to a strict attention to their 
duty, and the party continued to move onwards. 

" Tell me, at least, whither you are leading me,'' 
said Melanthe aloud, hoping to attract the atten- 
tion of some of those by whom she was guarded. 

" Lady, we are forbidden to answer questions,*' 
said the man who had at first conducted her ; but his 
words were uttered in a low voice, as if afraid that 
he might be overheard by his Chief. 

" But must it be to Rome ?" asked Melanthe, 
in a tone of distress. 

The word caught the ear of the Captain, who, 
turning fiercelyround, exclaimed, casting a threaten- 
ing look upon his followers, " Who spoke of Rome ? 
Corpo di Christo, can ye not listen to a woman's 
questions, and be silent ? Let the first who speaks 
look to his head ; and you, Lady,'"* he added, 



70 MELAXTHE. 

endeavouring to soften his tone, " be advised, and 
submit quietly. Fate is stronger than will ; and 
the power of the Pope is stronger than either." 

With these ambiguous words, and a gesture 
which very expressively declined further conversa- 
tion, the Captain strode forward, dragging, rather 
than leading, the jaded horse of Melanthe. It was 
almost dark, when she perceived that they were 
about to cross a shallow rapid mountain stream, 
which bounded and dashed amongst huge frag- 
ments of fallen rock that obstructed its course. 
They passed it in safety ; then, having scrambled 
for upwards of a mile, along a steep road on the 
opposite side, the Captain paused, and giving a few 
brief directions to his men, lifted Melanthe from 
her saddle, and conducted her to what appeared to 
her in the fading light to be the mouth of a cavern. 
V It was situated in a mass of rpck, overhanging 
the precipice on one side, while the other opened 
to the mountain, which was thickly wooded ; and 
the top of the cave was rendered inaccessible 
by projecting masses of granite, amongst which 
grew some large straggling oak, concealing the 
approach from all but a practised eye. 



MELANTHE. 7l 

" Not there — for pity sake, not there !'' she ex- 
claimed, as all the horrors of murder and violence, 
of which she had heard, rushed to her mind. " Let 
me remain in the open air/' 

A look of contempt at a request which appeared 

to him so childish, was all the answer the brigand 

chief vouchsafed; still it was with no ungentle 

hand that he led her forwards ; and pushing aside 

the boughs which hung from the rock, he entered 

the cave, and threw some brushwood upon the 

glowing embers. A bright flame instantly lighted 

up the interior, and, with some appearance of 

courtesy, the Captain placed a stool by the fire, 

and entreated Melanthe to be seated. A moment 

after, steps were heard approaching, and an old 

woman entered ; but at the first glance, her hideous 

aspect so terrified Melanthe, that she turned away 

her head, and before she could again gather courage 

to look round, the Brigand Chief was gone. A 

murmur rung in her ears of threats, and oaths, and 

fierce wrangling; but her bewildered senses had 

not enabled her to collect the import of what she 

had heard ; and to address any inquiry to the 

withered and savage looking creature who had been 



72 



MELANTHE. 



summoned to attend upon her, promised to Me- 
lanthe little more chance of a satisfactory^ explana- 
tion than if she had breathed her prayers to the 
rocks above and around her. 

It seemed, however, no part of the design of the 
strange power into which she had fallen to treat her 
with harshness or disrespect ; for her new guardian, 
who informed Melanthe that her name was Tere- 
sina, was, in her rude way, attentive and even 
courteous towards her, and brought food and wine, 
and offered to remove the heavy cloak in which she 
was still shrouded. This, Melanthe peremptorily 
declined. The jewels which she wore were one 
inducement to do so ; but the secret hope that, by 
some means, she might contrive to escape from the 
vigilance of her captors, determined her to be ever 
ready and watchful; and when, after vain endea- 
vours to extract from her companion some intel- 
ligence which might enable her to guess as to what 
her fate was to be, Melanthe, worn out by weakness 
and fatigue, was forced to seek repose, she folded 
and clasped her riding dress closely around her, 
and lay down upon the pallet which had been pre- 
pared for her. 



MELANTHE. 78 

When she awoke, the morning light streamed in 
from the natural door-way, formed by the rock, 
and the first object which met her eyes, was the 
form of Teresina, extended upon the ground, close 
by her side. She was fast asleep. A natural im- 
pulse to escape, although she knew not where to 
go, urged Melanthe to make the attempt. She 
raised herself cautiously from her bed, and stole 
past the sleeper with the tread of a fairy. In an 
instant she stood before the door ; but the heavy 
grating with which it was secured, resisted her 
utmost endeavours to move it ; and then she mar- 
velled how she could have imagined that a spot so 
exposed to probable danger as was the stronghold 
of the brigands should be left unguarded. Not 
only was the door firmly fastened, but a thick chain, 
apparently fixed in the roof, was passed diagonally 
through rings rivetted to the grating, and a huge 
padlock secured the whole to another iron ring, 
embedded in the foot of the rock. She turned 
away with a feeling of hopelessness, and grown 
accustomed to the light of the cavern, examined its. 
various recesses, which had hitherto escaped her 
observation. All was in order, — an order which 

VOL. III. E 



74 MELANTHE. 

but augmented her fears, for it spoke the haunt of 
a well-trained and organized band. The niches, 
which apparently had been hollowed from the 
rocky walls, were filled with articles telling the 
trade of their owners — swords, matchlocks, and 
poniards, were there in abundance, and stores of 
ammunition were piled by their side; while, on 
the top of a large wooden chest, Melanthe dis- 
covered dresses of all kinds, even of a costly de- 
scription : — caps, with feathers, and tassels of gold, 
and masks and visors, sufficient to accomplish the 
disguise of the whole troop to which they belonged. 

Further • on, were bridles, saddles, and horse 
armour, and innumerable boxes, casks, stores of 
salted provisions, and kitchen utensils of all de- 
scriptions. Every thing seemed to have been 
remembered that was or might be requisite for the 
maintenance of many persons ; and the smoke-dried 
appearance of the walls and roof proved that the 
existence of this robber-hold was of no recent date. 

It scarcely needed to look on aught beside the 
female guardian of the cavern, to tell Melanthe the 
nature of the spot where she stood ; and, with a 
shudder of disgust, she examined the features. 



MELANTHE. 75 

rendered still more gaunt and withered by the blue 
light of the coming day. And yet a trace of grand 
though masculine beauty might still be detected, as a 
calm, now unnatural from habit, softened the fierce- 
ness of the lines, with which long indulgence in 
every passion disgraceful to her sex, had stamped 
the face of the sleeper. She was one, who in early 
days had been the delight, but was now almost 
the terror of the wild troop, who seldom owned 
law, save that of their own mad will. Her long 
grisly hair was bound up somewhat fantastically 
with a handkerchief of scarlet cloth, and displayed 
a brow and form of head of bold and classical 
outline. Though the eyes were closed, an air of 
reckless defiance sat upon her face ; and M elan the 
shuddered on beholding her grasp convulsively the 
long clasp knife which she had evidently placed by 
her side before retiring to rest. The movement 
seemed so habitual, that the poor girl felt faint 
with terror, as she thought of having passed the 
night with such a companion ; and creeping gently 
past her, she seated herself close to the door, and 
endeavoured to examine the prospect without ; but 
the light was scarcely strong enough to admit of 



76 MELANTHE. 

her doing so. Wistfully she gazed through the 
iron bars, yet she thought even less of her own 
fate than the distress and danger it might entail 
upon those so dear to her ; and the tears that stole 
down her cheeks, were chiefly called forth by 
recollections of the only prison which she had ever 
before visited. 

Alas ! what were the bars against which she 
leaned, compared to those behind which her 
wretched father, for years, had groaned. Would 
the door ever open to restore him to the light of 
day, or had she found him but to part for ever ? 
These thoughts weighed heavily on her spirit ; yet, 
amidst the gloom which oppressed her still strug- 
gled a gleam, without whose vivifying ray she felt 
she must have sunk. It was her love for Mon- 
tesecco, and the confidence she reposed in his affec- 
tion. All other hopes might fade — all other support 
might waver or might fail — that thought, and that 
trust was unshaken — that beacon star still shone to 
cheer her on her rugged way. Sooner or later, he 
would be released from the ties which now bound 
him, and at liberty to seek her out, he would obtain 
the freedom of her father, then claim her as his 



MELANTHE. 77 

reward. Till then, through danger and through 
grief, she would endure on — patient and firm, in the 
blessed certainty that the heart she prized above all 
treasures of the earth held communion with her 
own, and with the spirit of love watched over her 
even from afar. 



CHAPTER VII. 

Somewhat soothed by the current of her re- 
flections, Melanthe sat for a little time in perfect 
stillness behind her prison door, looking out calmly 
upon the scene before her, as each moment some 
new object started into life beneath the gleam of 
the coming day. The door of the cavern was 
shaded from without by the fern and lichens 
springing from the crevices of the rock ; but it 
was so arranged, that, through the branches of a 
straggling oak which flung itself from above, a 
distinct view could be obtained of the only side 
upon which the hiding-place of the brigands could 
be approached. A small space had been cleared 
at a little distance, and the freshness of its verdure 
gave it the appearance of a lawn in the midst of 
the forest. 

Melanthe remembered that the path by which 



MELANTHE. 79 

she had reached her present abode skirted this 
opening, and naturally her eye reverted continually 
to the spot connected in her mind with a chance of 
escape, however difficult or remote. She examined 
every tree, and every branch, in the hope of 
recognising some that might enable her to trace 
the intricate windings of the road ; but the mass 
of foliage was so dense that she could not succeed. 
As the light increased, she fancied more than once 
that a figure flitted about on the margin of the 
wood, and her heart beat quickly as she made the 
discovery ; yet it was with fear, for, encaged as she 
was, and probably closely surrounded by the whole 
of the gang into whose power she had fallen, what 
chance could there be of succour or escape ? The 
appearance of mystery is generally an excitement, 
and Melanthe soon found herself watching with 
intense interest for the re-appearance of the form 
she had, or at least imagined she had seen. 

But nothing came again — not a leaf of the lower 
branches stirred, and she began to think she must 
have been deceived, when a movement of one of 
the lichens, which hung like creepers from the rock 
above, caused her to look up, and through the 



80 MELANTHE. 

grating she saw the eyes of a human being glaring 
down upon her. The lower part of the face was 
completely muffled, the slouched hat concealed the 
hair and forehead so that nothing was visible save 
two dark piercing eyes ; and Melanthe, without 
knowing why, trembled from head to foot, and 
springing from her place, aroused Teresina by a 
cry of fear which echoed through the cave. 

" How now ? '" she exclaimed, " what is the 
matter ? Are the soldiers upon us ? "*" — and shaking 
off the hold of Melanthe, the woman raised the 
clasp knife she held in her hand, and sprung from 
her sleeping posture with an agility which her 
years would seem to have forbidden. 

" Look there,"' said Melanthe, pointing to the 
rock, without lifting her own eyes to the spot. 

" Where ? what ? " asked the woman, at the 
same time feeling in her girdle for the key of the 
padlock, which to her satisfaction she found was 
still in its usual place. 

'* What did you see?"' again she asked, in 
surprise. 

'' I don't know — a man, I believe," said Melanthe. 

" A man ! " echoed the woman ; " only a man ! "*' 



MELANTHE. 81 

and she laughed with a ferocious wildness that 
frightened her captive still more. 

" And may I ask what else the Signora expected 
to see in these mountains ? " she added ; and the 
reasonableness of the question struck Melanthe, 
who blushed at the almost childish terror she had 
shown. The woman, who appeared to have very 
little curiosity upon the subject, looked once 
through the grating, and, not perceiving any one, 
proceeded to make some arrangements in the 
interior of the cave ; and having lighted a fire, 
she spread some food upon a table, then unlocking 
the door, seemed disposed to go out ; but Melanthe 
observing the movement sprung to her side, ex- 
claiming, 

" Do not leave me here — alone — have pity on 
me ! '' 

" Pity,^' echoed Teresina with a stare, as if slie 
did not comprehend the word. 

" Yes — listen to my prayer, — help me to escape, 
and I will make you rich for life.'" 

" Have you gold ? " said the woman, whose eyes 
sparkled at the word ; and, as she spoke, she looked 
cautiously round, and then approached her captive. 
E o 



0» MELANTHE. 

" Yes ! yes ! " replied Melanthe. " And you 
shall have it all, if you will only let me go. See 
here," and she raised the long sleeve of her robe, 
and showed the glittering bracelet she wore ; " you 
shall have this also — you will be so rich — only 
leave the chain unfastened — I ask no more. I will 
hide in the woods, until " 

" Poor child ! " said the woman, apparently 
touched by the earnest manner of Melanthe, " they 
would hunt you like dogs but the gold V 

" Here, take it,"" said Melanthe ; and she drew 
forth her purse, and poured its contents into the 
lap of the avaricious old woman, whose fingers 
trembled as she clutched each piece separately, and 
examined it. 

" Gold — golden ducats ! Five — ten — twenty — 
thirty. Santa Maria, never did I behold such a 
sum ! Madre di Dio ! to think of all the gold of 
the nobles, and that we must drudge and slave for 
a pittance of black bread to keep us from starving." 
And she looked at Melanthe with an air of male- 
volence that words could not have expressed. 

" It is yours — all yours," said the poor girl, 
endeavouring by gentleness to soften her gaoler. 



MELANTHE. 83 

" Take it, and I will pray to the Holy Saints to 
guard you — only allow me to quit this place." 

" We might escape together to-night, in the 
darkness,'' said the old woman musingly ; " I 
know every turn of the forest ; but then, what 
should I do in the city or the plain ? I who so 
love the mountains — and even this cave — I have 
been here for forty years ! "" and with a selfishness 
common to age, she seemed to tremble at the idea 
of a change in long-estabHshed habits, — even while 
she groaned under the tyranny with which she 
was constantly treated by the ruder spirits of the 
gang. 

" You would have a cottage of your own — you 
would be happy — and blessed for the good action 
you have done,'" suggested Melanthe. 

" A cottage — and a vineyard such as I have 
seen on the plain ? and wine— plenty of good wine 
— and no curses — no blows — nothing but eating 
and drinking — wine every day,'' said the woman, 
with a wild fervour of delight that disgusted 
Melanthe. 

" Would you not be glad to leave this dreadful 
life ?" she urged timidly. 



84 MELANTHE. 

" Dreadful," echoed the woman with an offended 
air; "it is a noble life, a grand life — one not to 
be exchanged for the Pope's kingdom ; but,'' she 
added, coming closer to Melanthe, and grinding 
her teeth with a look of concentrated rage, " that 
is for the chiefs. They take all — all ; and I their 
servant— their slave — am left to starve. Yes, 
often I have had nothing for days to eat, but the 
acorns from the forest ; and when they come back, 
the devils in hell cannot torture more fiercely if 
they find not food and wine, and it pleases them 
to say I had all when they left me. Look here — 
and here," and putting aside her dress she showed 
the marks of what appeared to be deep wounds on 
different parts of her body. " You think these 
were blows — they are the marks of hot irons, of the 
burning coals they held me down upon, to make 
me own what I had done with the wine they had left 
liere the last time they went ; but I had drank it. 
Ha ! ha ! ha ! It was a glorious week — morning, 
noon, and night, drunk— drunk — drunk, till I 
scarce could tell the night from the day !"" and 
Teresina rubbed her hands delightedly. 

" Horrible ! " said Melanthe. 



MELANTHE. 85 

" Yes, horrible r repeated the woman ; " nothing 
but blows and kicks, and usage not fit for a dog ; 
but I have sworn to be revenged, and if we go I 
will tell you what I will do. I will lay a train, 
and blow all their treasures about their ears,"" and 
she grinned with delight at the idea. 

" Do not talk of vengeance," said Melanthe 
soothingly, " leave vengeance to Heaven !" 

" Heaven ! now hear how she talks ! as if 
Heaven would trouble itself about such a poor 
miserable wretch as I am."" 

" May God forgive her ! " said Melanthe, horri- 
fied at the impious words. 

" No," continued the woman ; " other folks may 
trust to such means, but I will revenge myself; 
and when I am gone, let them say what they will — 
and do what they will with anything of mine they 
can find ; they may roast in the fire all that belongs 

to Teresina — they may " but here, as if seized 

by some horrible convulsion, she stopped, stretched 
out her clenched hands, while every feature was 
contracted with an expression of agony that froze 
the heart of Melanthe. 

For some moments a deep short sob was all 



8b MELANTHE. 

that betokened existence in the stricken frame; 
and, breathless with anxiety, Melanthe continued 
to watch for the return of the blood to the sunken 
cheek and livid lips of the old woman. At length 
the muscles seemed to relax from their rigidity, a 
gleam of consciousness shown in the fixed and 
glassy eyes, and slowly drawing up her arms as 
though shivering from cold, Teresina crossed her 
dark withered hands upon her breast. 

" My son," she said, in a low hoarse whisper, 
" my son — I had forgotten. If I go, they will 
think it is to betray them — they will torture him — 
put out his eyes as they did to the Jew last week 
— tear his flesh with pincers, and strip the skin 
from his arms, till it hangs from his fingers 
like ribbands. I saw them do it — I heated 
the irons, and I laughed when they hissed in the 
blood. Some one else will laugh- when his blood 
hisses, and bubbles, and smokes on the hot steel. 
My son, my Giulio, my one — one blessing, I cannot 
go. No ! no ! no ! Lady, take back the gold — 
My son, my son !" and raising her voice till it rung 
in a shrill scream through the cavern, she dashed 
the purse at the feet of Melanthe, and with the 



MELANTHE. 87 

fury of a maniac swung back the heavy grating, 
and securing it from the outside with the chain, 
which she locked, she hurried from the cave. 

The voice of Nature had triumphed. The 
one feeling of the woman had trampled the demon 
spirit to the earth, but with it the last hope of 
Melanthe lay crushed ! The sudden revulsion 
of feeling occasioned by disappointment is, of 
all the painful emotions incidental to the human 
state, one of the most difficult to endure. The 
effort of a great sacrifice will, to nobler minds, 
impart some feeling of satisfaction in com- 
pensation for the hard self-denial exacted ; and 
resignation will soften an anticipated sorrow, 
until it loses much of its poignancy ; but the 
suddenness of an unlooked for disappointment 
overwhelms and stuns the sanguine spirit. At once 
the bright flowers of hope are laid low, as the 
blossoms of the meadow fall beneath the scythe, 
and, like them, they seem cut off for ever. 

So elated had Melanthe felt by the manner with 
which Teresina had at first received the proposal 
of flight, that it was not for some time that she 
could believe in the meaning of the frenzied words 



88 MELANTHE. 

uttered by the unhappy woman just before her 
disappearance. But one by one they came back 
upon the ear of the captive. She looked around. 
She was alone ; and going to the door of the cavern, 
she saw the chain, and tried the lock ; it was fast ; 
and Melanthe gazed at the waving woods, beneath 
which she had hoped that night to find a shelter — 
then turned to her prison — to weep ! 



CHAPTER VIII. 

All that day Melanthe remained alone; and 
when evening brought back Teresina to her post, 
the unhappy prisoner saw at a glance that an air of 
dogged resolution had replaced the fierceness which 
at their first meeting had struck her as the charac- 
teristic expression of the countenance of her gaoler. 
Certain of repulse, she forbore to implore further ; 
and Teresina, perhaps touched by the gentleness 
of her captive, refrained from all allusion to the 
scene of the morning. Little was heard in that 
dark cavern, save the low sobs of the poor girl ; 
and when night came, she lay down upon her pallet, 
more to avoid the vigilance of Teresina, than from 
any hope of obtaining repose. Apparently satisfied 
with the submission of her prisoner, Teresina soon 
followed her example; but before she did so, 
Melanthe remarked that she drank long and deeply 
of some liquid, which she took from a small cask 



90 MELANTHE. 

which stood in the interior of the cave. Disgusted 
by the sight, Melanthe turned her head away, and 
soon the heavy breathing of the old woman told 
that she slept. 

But to the weary eyelids of the captive, sleep 
came not ; and, to relieve the tedium of the hours, 
she left her pallet, and placing a stool close to the 
grating, sat down, and sorrowfully gazed through 
her prison bars upon the moonlight scene. The 
angle of the rock at one side, threw the entrance to 
the cavern into deep shade ; beyond, all was dis- 
tinctly visible, and so still was the night, that the 
murmur of the mountain stream, which she knew 
was at a great distance below, fell clearly upon her 
ear. Vain would it be to tell the desolation of heart 
which froze up every faculty, as the poor captive sat 
thus encaged by a ruffian band in their mountain 
stronghold, scarcely daring to conjecture what 
might be her future fate, and yet dreading to look 
back lest the shadow of past grief might lengthen 
as she looked. Thus benumbed as it were by sor- 
row, she sat for some hours, when she was suddenly 
aroused by the sound of whispering voices. It 
ceased ; and remembering the unnecessary display 



MELANTHE. 91 

of fear which had been caused that morning by 
what she now considered a delusion, she abstained 
from awakening Teresina, and remained in her 
former position. The sound returned. The 
speakers had evidently approached close to the 
angle of the rock ; she could see their shadows as 
they stood ; and the first words they uttered took 
from Melanthe all power to move. 

" I tell thee. Carlo," said one of them, " it must 
be done to-night. To-morrow, the Captain will 
return, and then farewell to any chance for us." 

" He cannot be here by to-morrow," was the 
reply. " You talk as if he had nothing to do but 
to walk straight to the Pope's palace, and claim the 
reward offered for the capture of a runaway nun 
and a heretic. You forget, there is a price set upon 
his own head ; and to treat through a third person, 
requires time." 

" Others might want it, but he will do without 
it ; and a free pardon is promised to ail who may 
have a hand in bringing her back." 

" After all, she may not be the person," observed 
Carlo, who appeared more inclined to procrastinate 
than suited the views of his companion. 



92 MELANTHE. 

" She is no other, or my name is not Tomaso," 
said the first speaker angrily. " Have I not, from 
the hour when the proclamation of the Pope, signed 
by the Cardinal Borgia, was distributed all over 
the country, traced her very steps, till she must 
needs fall sick at Civita Castellana, and lose me the 
reward by letting the Captain get hold of the news. 
But it's always the way," he added, in a sulky 
tone, " we work — and the chiefs profit by it : I 
should like to know what becomes of their oath to 
share all alike — we hear little enough of that after 
we have once joined the troop.'"' 

" Poor Tomaso !" said Carlo laughing ; " but 
I have a plan to make you rich for life." 

" What is it?" growled Tomaso, whose anger 
rose in proportion as his companion seemed inclined 
to hold back from the accomplishment of the 
scheme which had brought them .thither. 

" Give me the damsel, and do you take all the 
jewels which you say she wears." 

" Not I, by Heaven ! " said Tomaso, fiercely. 
" I may have been deceived in the pearls, but not 
in the girl ; and, nun or not, she is a splendid 
creature. No, my good Signor Carlo, a bargain 



MELANTHE. 93 

is a bargain — the woman and her jewels are our 
joint property."" 

A groan that appeared to come from the rock 
against which they leaned, made the robbers start, 
but it was not repeated ; and Carlo, upon whom 
the charms of Melanthe had made a very vivid 
impression, continued, 

" You had better take my offer ; renounce the 
girl, or I fling over the precipice the file I had 
brought to open the lock ; and I don't think you 
will persuade Teresina to unfasten the door." 

" Fling it, then, and yourself after it," roared 
Tomaso ; " but, by God and the saints, you shall 
keep to the bargain."'' 

" Devil ! thou art not fit even to look at her,"" 
exclaimed Carlo, in a voice of rage. 

'' And you," said Tomaso, sneeringly, as he 
snapped his fingers in the face of his companion. 
The sound of a sharp blow was the answer, and in 
an instant the robbers were engaged in a deadly 
struggle. 

Melanthe, starting with a loud cry from her seat, 
clung to the bars of her prison, as she beheld the 
fierce encounter of the ruflSans ; but her shriek was 



94 MELANTHE. 

unheard by those whose fury could alone be appeased 
by blood. With frantic energy each pressed upon 
the other, twining, in a death grapple, the arms of 
his opponent, striving who should first draw the 
knife from his belt. For a few moments the deadly 
struggle was not unequal, when Tomaso, who had 
the advantage in stature, having gained a slight 
elevation of ground, by a desperate effort released 
his arms from the grasp of his adversary, and 
rushing upon him with wild fury, hurled him with 
one tremendous blow upon the ground. He fell 
upon the sharp rock almost at the mouth of the 
cavern ; and such was the violence of the shock, 
that his forehead was completely crushed by it. 
One instant the quivering limbs struggled to regain 
their position — the next, all was still ; and Tomaso, 
with a glare of satisfied vengeance, stood gazing 
on the corpse. 

Melanthe saw it all, and, sick with horror, was 
still clinging to the prison door, incapable of 
speech or motion. The body of the murdered 
man was within a few paces of her, and she could 
see in the bright moonlight the blood welling from 
the wound. Tomaso saw it also, but with far 



MELANTHE. 95 

different eyes. It might betray the deed ; and the 
laws of the brigands were severe in case of murder 
amongst their band. Something must be done, 
and that instantly. He took up the body in his 
arms — the warm body of his former friend and 
comrade ; but steeled to all compunction, by a long 
life of violence and blood, the ferocious spirit of 
Tomaso did not quail, as the still pliant limbs of 
his victim now hung helplessly towards the earth. 
He only sought to shield his garments from the red 
stream which burst afresh as he lifted the corpse. 
And now he stands upon the edge of the precipice — 
he looks cautiously from the dizzy height, then moves 
forward a few steps, as though to gain a better 
footing; he pauses — his burden glides from his 
arms, and the weak branches of the underwood 
crash beneath the falling weight — and then a dead, 
sullen sound. To-morrow, who shall say how came 
that mangled corpse upon the path below ? 

There was a fearful silence. Still leaning from 
the edge of the rock, the murderer seemed listening 
to the second death of his victim, while his eye 
followed the movement of the tall fern and the 
branches, as they settled to their former places, 



96 MELANTHE. 

springing, one by one, from the sudden bend they 
had received. 

And Melanthe saw this also ! But is it a vision 
of her reeling brain — or has Heaven already sent a 
ghastly phantom to dog the murderer's steps? 
No ! — It is a human form — a form of flesh and 
blood, and sinew, that glides, spirit-like, across the 
blood-stained grass ; yet with a tread so noiseless 
the murderer does not turn his head. His soul is 
in the depth below — he is looking on his crime, 
and does not see the hand Heaven guides above his 

guilty head. One blow the tottering feet 

have passed the edge — they sHp upon the smooth 
and polished rock ; again the crash is heard — but 
dies, for up the mountain'*s side there rung a shriek 
so bitter, and so wild, that even the eagles started 
from their nests, joining their dismal scream to 
that deep death-note from below,, until a general 
wail, echoing from rock to rock, fled madly up the 
valley, as though the demons, howling from their 
hell, welcomed a kindred soul. 



CHAPTER IX. 

At the first movement of the stranger, as he 
raised his hand above the head of the murderer, 
the fate of Tomaso was so inevitably sealed, that, 
unable to bear the accumulated horror of the scene, 
the senses of Melanthe forsook her, and she fell 
fainting upon the floor. When she recovered, 
many hours must have passed ; for the glorious 
sunlight streamed through the grating, and the 
glad song of the birds resounded from the woods. 
She, herself, was lying upon her pallet, and 
Teresina was busy preparing some article of food 
near the fire. It was so like the day before, that 
Melanthe at first felt convinced that the hideous 
scene which rose before her eyes must have passed 
in a dream. Soon, however, it all came back to 
her mind — so horrible in its distinctness, that a 
relapse into insensibility would have been hailed 

VOL. III. F 



98 MELAMTHE. 

by her as a relief. She could not speak — she dared 
not move, for it seemed as if a step might bring 
her to the brink of that fearful precipice. 

Teresina, whose own mind was too gloomy and 
fierce to allow of her bestowing much sympathy 
upon her companion, merely recounted, in a few 
words, how she had found her stretched upon the 
ground, and had lifted her to her bed ; then, with- 
out further inquiry or remark, she placed upon a 
table the food she had been preparing, and quitted 
the cave. Long, long did Melanthe watch that 
day, listening, with a beating heart, to every sound ; 
for she thought that the murder must be discovered, 
and she trembled, as though her having witnessed 
the deed was already known to the wild crew, who 
might, perhaps, implicate her in the death of their 
companions. She knew not the extreme indifference 
with which the members of the gang regarded each 
other. Formed, as it was, of individuals driven to 
enrol themselves in it either by accident or fear, and 
differing generally in their habits and calling, but 
little friendship existed amongst them, although 
their common danger maintained the semblance of 
a common interest. Tomaso and Carlo, the two 



MELANTHE. 99 

whose death she had witnessed, were the oldest of 
the gang ; and had ever been supposed to be closely 
united. Of their friendship, she had seen the 
strength ; of the rest, she could only form a con- 
jecture ; but that conjecture was full of terror. 
However, for the moment, her fears were not real- 
ized. The day passed on, and she sat unmolested 
in her prison ; and when evening brought the 
return of Teresina, the altered countenance of the 
old woman did not speak of bloodshed or murder. 
" Lady,"" she exclaimed, " what will you give 
me, if I let you breathe the fresh air of the moun- 
tain for half an hour ?'^ 

" This," replied Melanthe, taking from her purse 
a piece of gold. 

" Well then,"" said Teresina, as she eagerly 
grasped it, " come with me — but you must pro- 
mise not to stir from my side.'*' 

" I will promise it,'' replied Melanthe. 
" Remember, I have not ill-used you, nor taken 
your jewels, which the Holy Madonna knows I 
might easily have done ; but Teresina is honour- 
able — ay, honourable as any noble lady in Italy ;'' 
and she drew herself up with an air of stateliness, 



100 MELANTHE. 

much at variance with her rags and her dirt. 
Melanthe said nothing, for she saw that the woman 
had been drinking. 

" The Captain said my head was to answer for 
your^s ; and so remember, if you hear his whistle 
up the hill side, you must come in here directly ;"" 
said Teresina. Then, without waiting for an answer, 
she went on : — " This is the feast of Saint Antonio 
of Padua, the blessed Saint Antonio ! we must 
keep it merrily." 

" Where are we going ?" asked Melanthe, whose 
heart beat with joy at the prospect even of a 
momentarv release. 

" Just round the rock ; no further. There are 
only a few of us here — the rest are gone down to 
the plain, on the track of some noble's carriage : 
but we have done better — we have caught a peasant 
with a cargo of wine, and we must drink to the 
healtli of Saint Antonio. Oh, the blessed Saint 

Antonio ! "" and taking as many of some large 

earthen cups from a chest as she could conveniently 
carry, Teresina led the way, keeping, however, a 
close watch upon the movements of her captive. 

The heart of Melanthe sickened, as she passed 



MELANTHE. 101 

the spot that had witnessed the dark deed of the 
night. Teresina marked it not ; and turning the 
angle of the rock, they passed the shade of some 
large trees, and Melanthe found herself in the 
midst of a scene totally unexpected. A blight 
fire blazed in the centre of an open space in the 
wood, and around it sat, or rather lounged, all those 
of the gang who had been ordered to remain to 
keep guard over the prisoner in the cave. They 
were watching the process by which, in honour of 
the blessed Saint Antonio, a young wild boar was 
to be roasted whole ; and Avhile waiting for their 
repast, regaled themselves plentifully with tlie wine 
they had taken from the peasant, who, with the 
small horse, whose panniers were now nearly empty, 
stood at a little distance, beneath the shade of 
a tree. 

Melanthe, as she heard the boisterous mirth of the 
party, stepped back still further into the conceal- 
ment of the wood, and her presence was unnoticed 
by the brigands. If, before, she had indulged in 
a momentary hope of escape, it vanished as she 
beheld the determination with which Teresina kept 
close by her side. Not an instant did she with- 



102 MELAXTHE. 

draw her vigilance from her charge; and had it 
not been for the kindness of the poor plundered 
peasant, who, when the feast began, seemed to act 
as cup-bearer to the party, Teresina would have 
had little reason to rejoice in the festivities held 
in honour of the blessed St. Antonio di Padua ! 
So occupied were the brigands with their feast, 
that the movements of their attendant were unob- 
served by them ; and cutting a savoury piece of the 
well-roasted pork, he brought it to the spot where 
Teresina sat on the grass by the side of Melanthe, 
placing at the same time a cup and flask of the wine 
upon the ground. The food was unheeded, but 
the wine cup in an instant was at the lips of the 
beldame, who took a draught that would have put 
to shame the most reckless of the band. 

" Drink,""* she said to the unhappy girl beside 
her, and at the same time presenting her with the 
cup which she replenished. Melanthe, judging 
that opposition would only irritate a person in the 
state of Teresina, put her lips to the wine, and 
feigned to obey a command at which she shud- 
dered. Apparently satisfied, Teresina emptied the 
cup at a draught; then refilling it continued to drink, 



MELANTHE. 103 

until, oppressed by a drowsiness unusual to her, 
she lay back upon the bank ; still, however, keeping 
a fold of the dress of Melanthe grasped in her hand. 

At length, it was evident that the senses of the 
woman were gone — was it hope or fear that shot 
through the breast of the captive as die made the 
discovery ? Melanthe knew not ; but one instant 
and her uncertainty was converted into joy so over- 
whelming, that she pressed her hand upon her lips 
to stifle the cry which must otherwise have broke 
forth. The eyes of Teresina were no sooner closed, 
than, with the speed of light, the peasant from 
whom the wine had been taken sprung to the side 
of Melanthe, and raising the hat which covered his 
features, displayed to her view the countenance 
of Gennaro ! 

No time was there for greeting, or surprise. 
Disengaging the dress of ^lelanthe from the grasp 
of Teresina, they stole softly to the spot where the 
horse was tied. Gennaro cast one look upon the 
scene, before he lifted Melanthe to the saddle. The 
wine, which he had drugged, had done its work, 
and round the still blazing fire lay the stupified 
revellers. One glance was enough ; and away they 



104 MELANTHE. 

hurried over rock and valley until they reached a 
spot where another horse stood ready ; and taking an 
opposite direction from the side by which Melanthe 
had gained the mountain, they soon left behind 
them the haunts of the brigands ; and, though not 
without difficulty, ere the morning dawned, were 
on the road to Florence. 



CHAPTER X. 

The prison of the Inquisition was situated 
almost in the centre of the city of Rome. Sur- 
rounded by walls of an immense height and 
thickness, not even the tops of the few chimneys 
could be seen from without ; and had any adven- 
turer, hardy enough to risk the attempt, gained 
the summit of the walls, his temerity would have 
been ill rewarded by the discovery that all within 
was alike mysterious and unapproachable. As 
though to veil from the face of Heaven the horrors 
enacted within that den of iniquity, the whole of 
the buildings were covered with one flat roof, 
extending nearly to the outward walls. Many 
windows were in this roof, which admitted the 
light to the actual covering of the apartments 
below, all of which were so constructed, that a 
constant watch could be kept upon those who 
F 5 



106 MELANTHE. 

occupied the cells, without the unhappy prisoners 
being aware of the fact. 

The building underneath the upper roof was 
divided into two parts, or long rows of cells, the 
space left between being paved with stone, forming 
a sort of covered street, in the midst of which were 
wells which supplied the water for the use of the 
prison. 

When any prisoner was admitted, he was com- 
pelled to walk blindfold for a considerable time 
between two of the officials, who led him backwards 
and forwards, and round and round the building, until 
it was impossible for him to recognise the side by 
which he had entered. After this, he was consigned 
to his appointed dungeon. Many of these were 
totally dark, and not unfrequently the new occu- 
pant of the cell stumbled, on entering, over the 
bones of his predecessor ! This, however, had 
latterly been avoided; and a gleam of light and 
hope administered to the unhappy victims, less 
from humanity than to arrest the ebb of reason ; 
for the double terror of solitude and darkness so 
often produced insanity, that the cruelty of the 



MELANTHE. 107 

tormentors had been thereby in some degree disap- 
pointed. 

It might have been a fortnight after Me- 
lanthe had quitted the city of Rome, that two 
persons sat together in this prison. They occupied 
a small apartment, the walls and ceiling of which 
were covered with crimson cloth, all the other 
arrangements of the room speaking equally of 
luxury and comfort. The elder of the two, by his 
sleek and comely aspect, showed that the monkish 
habit which he wore had not entailed sufficient acts 
of penance or mortification to have at all impaired 
the redundancy of health with which nature had 
blessed him ; still less would the jovial expression 
of his countenance, and tranquillity of his broad 
brow, displayed more fully by his closely shaven 
crown, have led the casual beholder to suppose, as 
he looked upon him, that he stood in the presence 
of one of the most rigorous officers of the Inqui- 
sition. Yet such was the state and calling of the 
individual, who, in his well-cushioned and carpeted 
room, endeavoured by sundry anecdotes connected 
with his profession, to beguile the time until 



108 MELANTHE. 

admittance to the secret chamber could be granted 
to him and to his companion the Cardinal Borgia. 
It was indeed Roderigo Borgia who sat by the 
blazing hearth ; but not now did his handsome 
features glow with the gay and courtly air which 
had been their wont. Sullen and fierce was the 
brow upon which the dancing flame of the wood 
fire played ; and although seated in the most 
luxurious arm-chair, with his feet resting upon a 
cushion, it was with an air of irrepressible im- 
patience that he turned to his companion, as he 
exclaimed, 

" Is it possible, Diego, that the chamber is not 
yet vacant ? '"* 

" It ought to be by this time," replied the 
Inquisitor ; " the Turk was on the coals when I 
last looked in."" 

" How long do they last after thefire question ? '■• 
asked Borgia, more with the air of a man who 
seeks a momentary distraction, than one touched 
by any feeling of humanity. 

" Seldom more than a few minutes," replied 
Diego ; " but those Eastern dogs have a tenacity 



MELANTHE. 109 

of life beyond belief. However, as both his eyes 
were out, I should not think his brain can stand 
the fire long. I will just look in, and say that 
your Eminence is in a hurry. 

" Do, good Diego ! and in the mean time let me 
have some wine. The room is warm, and I have 
ridden fast.'' 

Diego immediately opened a cupboard, and pro- 
ducing a flask and cups, placed them on a small 
table by the side of the Cardinal, who, filling one 
of them, drank off its contents at a draught. 

" Good wine, by Saint Peter,'' he exclaimed, as 
he refilled the goblet ; " and a comfortable chamber 
for the Palace of torture, methinks;" he added, 
glancing with a smile round the apartment, which 
was known in the prison by the name of " the Red 
Room^'' being the only one, the walls of which were 
not hung with black. 

" Your Eminence is merry," replied the Inqui- 
sitor ; " but we want some little comfort, for the 
service is hard." 

" Hard !" echoed the Cardinal, while a smile 
again passed over his face, as he looked upon his 
rosy and well-fed companion. 



110 MELANTHE. 

" But, my good Diego, you said you would look 
into the next room — do bid them leave the Turk, 
and go on with the next prisoner.'^ These words 
were uttered in a gentle tone, for the services of the 
Inquisitors were of too much importance to theHoly 
See, to risk offending any member of the secret 
tribunal. 

" Certainly, if it so please your Eminence," 
replied Diego with readiness, moving towards the 
door as he spoke. Just then, a shriek so terrible 
and prolonged broke upon the ear, that the Car- 
dinal started, and turned uneasily in his chair ; but 
Diego merely retreated from the door which was 
still unopened, and laying his hand upon the 
crimson-covered wall, observed, in an apologetic 
tone, " The stuffing must have given way some- 
where;"" and he pressed his fingers repeatedly 
against the side of the room, which Borgia perceived, 
in order to deaden any sound from without, was 
entirely lined with cushions. 

" Ifs of no use going in just yet,**' said Diego, 
coming close to the lamp which stood upon the 
table, and taking from his pocket a long piece of 
paper. 



MELANTHE. Ill 

" Ah ! I see — ' Julia Wersenstein, a German 
heretic, follower of John Huss, aged sixteen ;' they 
have only just begun with her, for the prisoners 
never scream so loud after the first few minutes. 
She wont last long ; I saw her this morning, and 
by mistake she had been put in the dead cell, and 
had had no food for a week I Hassan stands next on 
the list, so I must pray your Eminence will have 
patience, and take another cup of wine ;"" and Diego 
quietly restored to his pocket the paper, upon 
which was inscribed the names of the unhappy 
victims, with their supposed offences, and the order 
in which they were to suffer. 

" So you really think he knows nothing about 
the girl, or the manner of her escape ?'"■ inquired 
Borgia, as, filling a cup of wine, he presented it to 
the Inquisitor, at the same time settling himself for 
a comfortable conversation before the fire. 

" To the best of my judgment, he is quite 
ignorant of every thing," replied Diego, with an air 
of sagacity, at the same time crossing his short fat 
legs, and sipping his wine. 

" You have only told him that she was missed 



lis MELANTHE. 

just before his return to Rome," inquired the 
Cardinal. 

" That is all,"^ answered Diego ; " your Emi- 
nence so commanded."" 

" Requested, my good Diego !" replied Borgia 
in his most courteous manner. " The officers of the 
Inquisition are supreme in their jurisdiction. But 
should he really be ignorant of the place of her 
concealment, would it not be better to set him at 
liberty ? He can be watched night and day, and it 
is probable she will at least try to communicate 
with him.'' 

" A most wise suggestion,*" observed Diego 
obsequiously. 

" Still Hassan has declared himself a merchant 
from Smyrna — an Eastern— and no doubt an 
Infidel; and the great mind of your Eminence 
cannot follow the turnings and windings of these 
Greek and Moslem dogs — they would outface 
his Holiness the Pope— ay, even the blessed Saints 
of Heaven, did it suit their purpose. No, there 
is nothing for them but the rack, and even that 
sometimes fails." 



MELANTHE. 113 

" This Hassan/' said Borgia thoughtfully, " is a 
man of great note in the city — his death might be 
inquired into ; whereas, if he really has nothing to 
communicate, his detention and examination can be 
easily explained away as matters of state policy, for 
this girl is described as a heretic and runaway 
nun.'' 

" In this case," observed Diego, who saw that 
some uneasiness, mingled with the hatred of the 
Cardinal against Hassan, " what might your 
Eminence think of a middle course ?" 

*' How mean you ?" asked Borgia. 

" Sometimes I have known fear operate as power- 
fully as pain. Suppose that another prisoner be 
put to the torture in his presence, might not the 
threat of a similar fate extort the secret from 
Hassan ?'^ 

" Well imagined," replied the Cardinal ; " but 
is there any prisoner already condemned ? — Time 
presses." 

" Oh !" replied Diego, " we can manage such a 
trifle as that, if it should be required for the service 
of your Eminence ;" and he pulled out the paper a 



114 MELANTHE. 

second time from his pocket, and ran his eye hastily 
over it. " I fear we have nothing very good, — 
' Two boys, thirteen and fourteen ; one woman 
sickly, and deformed; three old men, all near 
eighty."* These are of no use ; they would not last 
half-an-hour. Ah ! here is the very thing. ' Nathan 
Myers, Jew, suspected of concealing immense 
hordes of gold, and accused of blasphemy against 
the Holy Ghost, aged forty-five :' — this will do. I 
remember him well, though it is some weeks now 
since he was brought in — a fine handsome man. 
He will be a grand subject ;*" and the Inquisitor 
raised his eyes delightedly from the list, and fixed 
them upon the face of the Cardinal, as if awaiting 
his instructions. 

" I think we cannot do better," was the answer 
of Borgia to the inquiring glance of his companion ; 
and Diego put the paper once more into his pocket, 
saying as he did so, " Then, if your Eminence will 
excuse my absence, I will have the prisoner brought 
up directly. That German girl must be dead by 
this ! - - -" and he bustled out of the apartment, 
while the Cardinal re-settled himself in his com- 



MELANTHE. 115 

fortable chair, and drew the skirts of his robe 
somewhat more over his knees, to protect them from 
the heat of the fire. 

The horrible indifference with which the Inqui- 
sitor spoke of torture and of death in no wise 
affected Borgia. His stern and powerful mind, 
accustomed to look only upon the one point, the 
accomplishment of the object he had in view, dis- 
dained to turn aside. Human life was to him a 
consideration far too trivial in its nature to arrest 
him in his course ; and although the Papal chair, 
the object of his ultimate ambition, stood ever 
before his eyes as an incentive to caution, if not to 
mercy, it was seldom that any pause in his head- 
long career was the result of forbearance. Already 
stained by crimes of the deepest dye, the terror of 
his name was to him a safeguard : but, in the case 
of Hassan, his usual determination had, in some 
degree, deserted him ; and having caused him to 
be seized and incarcerated within the walls of the 
Inquisition, with the intention of extracting, by 
torture, the secret of the escape of Melanthe, it was 
with no small degree of satisfaction that he listened 
to the suggestion of the Inquisitor as to a milder 



116 MELAXTHE. 

form of treatment. It was not altogether the sen- 
sation which the death of Hassan might occasion, 
which caused the resolute Borgia to waver. Baffled 
by the artifices of Vanozia, he had hitherto been 
unable to trace the steps of Melanthe; and so 
irritated was his passion, that he did not dare to 
sever with his own hand the only tie by which he 
might yet recover possession of all that he had lost. 
It was contrary to the laws of the fiendish tri- 
bunal to which he had appealed, to allow any eye, 
save that of the initiated, to look upon the agony 
of their victims ; but a power like that of Borgia, 
could make as well as unmake laws; and even 
should the tongue of Hassan ever reveal the ter- 
rible secrets of that prison-house, its demoniacal 
masters could still boldly confront inquiry, for 
whatever might be the real motives for their perse- 
cution of individuals, heresy was the accusation 
with which it was too closely veiled to be easily 
discovered. For this reason, when driven to distrac- 
tion by the sudden disappearance of Melanthe, the 
Cardinal had adopted the plan of issuing a proclama- 
tion of reward or pardon to any who might restore 
her to his power ; he had not hesitated to describe 



MELAXTHE. ]17 

her as a heretic ; thus enlisting bigotry where avarice 
might have failed. For some time, even this mea- 
sure had proved unsuccessful ; and rendered frantic 
by the delay, he had caused the unhappy Hassan 
to be seized the very day, when, within a short 
distance of Rome, he was returning from his 
wanderings in search of Elphenor. 



CHAPTER XL 

The return of Diego put an 'end to the reverie 
into which the Cardinal had unconsciously fallen ; 
and, rising from his chair, he prepared to follow 
his conductor to the chamber, where the prisoners 
always underwent a mock examination, even when 
their persecutors had previously decided upon their 
fate ! The first care of the Inquisitor was to render 
the disguise of Borgia as effectual as that worn by 
the officials of the prison. A long black robe, 
descending to the ground, concealed the figure, 
the face being covered by a black mask ; and a 
large silk hood and cape, the border of which was 
ornamented with skulls and bones, painted in 
white upon the black cloth, was closely tied over 
the head. Gloves of black silk were not omitted ; 
but Diego reminded the Cardinal that the habit of 
their order was to keep their hands as constantly 



MELANTHr. 119 

as possible beneath the folds of their dress, lest any- 
peculiar movement might betray to the prisoner a 
knowledge of his accuser. It seemed to the Car- 
dinal that in a place from whence so few ever 
returned to tell the tale of what they had seen, a 
precaution so strict was scarcely necessary : but the 
rules of the order prescribed every care in its 
members; and in this instance Borgia did not 
regret a regulation, which might prevent his en- 
countering the calm, yet searching glance of 
Hassan. 

Fully equipped as an Inquisitor, the Cardinal 
followed Diego to the secret chamber. For a 
moment, the change from the well-lighted apart- 
ment he had just quitted prevented his seeing 
clearly ; but as his eye grew accustomed to the 
shadow, he glanced round to take a survey of the 
room. It was of a circular form, the ceihng and 
walls being hung with black cloth. At some 
height from the floor was suspended a large iron 
lamp, which threw its rays strongly upon the 
panels into which the surface of the walls was 
divided, and which represented either skeletons of 
the most appalling dimensions, or the figures of 



120 MELANTHE. 

men undergoing different stages of the torture, 
and which were pourtrayed with frightful dis- 
tinctness by the same painting of white upon the 
black ground. That one lamp, glaring upon 
images so horrible, was the only light in the room, 
except that which was emitted from a small square 
lantern, darkened on three sides, the fourth was 
kept constantly turned upon the face of the 
prisoner under examination, whoever he might be ; 
and as the Cardinal entered, he almost started on 
beholding the long snowy hair and beard of Hassan. 
For an instant one softer thought crossed the mind 
of Borgia, as the image of Melanthe rose before 
him; but the first words spoken by the official 
who occupied the chief place at the table, awoke 
the dormant rage within the breast of the Cardinal. 

" You are here,'"" said the Inquisitor, addressing 
the prisoner, " to answer for the escape of a heretic 
from the hands of justice. AVill you, of your own 
free will, disclose the secret of her abode, or must 
the torture extract it from your lips ?" 

The low deep tone in which these words were 
slowly uttered died away in silence, for the prisoner 
made no reply, but with a calm, scrutinizing glance 



MELANTHE. 121 

turned his eye from one to another of the shrouded 
figures before him, coveted from head to foot, 
as though they dared not meet the light that 
might have told that yet they bore a human 
semblance. 

" Speak !" said the Inquisitor, " or the rack 
awaits you." 

" Fools !" exclaimed the prisoner, as, with an 
undaunted air, he raised himself to his full height, 
and looked haughtily around, " Idiots that ye are — 
ye who pretend to know the secrets of the heart. 
My child ! my only treasure, is lost ; and ye 
speak to me of torture ! My beauteous one is 
stolen from her home, accused — tracked by blood- 
hounds like yourselves, and you threaten me with 
the rack, and with the flame. You have said that 
she is lost ! Here ! take my limbs ! tear them 
asunder! work your bloody will — the torture of 
Hassan is past." 

" Prisoner," said the Inquisitor sternly, " your 
violence will avail you nothing. Answer, know 
you the abode of Melanthe .?" 

Hassan remained silent ; but the watchful eye 
of Borgia perceived, as the beloved name of his 

VOL. Ill, G 



122 MELANTHE. 

adopted child sounded in that awful chamber, the 
breast of the old man heave, and his fixed gaze 
grow glassy from the unshed tear forced back by 
his proud enduring heart. And the Cardinal, well 
versed in human nature, saw that the ignorance of 
Hassan was not feigned. Still it was possible ; and 
he resolved to omit nothing which might elicit the 
truth. Touching the arm of Diego, Borgia 
whispered something in his ear, which apparently 
was repeated by the Inquisitor to him whose duty 
it was to examine the prisoner, for the same voice 
again addressed Hassan : — 

" The young Greek who lives with you is also 
missing from your house." 

" Gennaro ! " exclaimed the prisoner, thrown 
off his guard by this unexpected announcement. 

" Answer," said the Inquisitor, " but dare not 
to question-^where is Gennaro .?". 

'' Where should he be ? where ? but with 
her !"" exclaimed Hassan wildly. "Oh, my. God !" 
he continued, as he sank upon his knees, " I 
thank Thee, my child is safe !" and the tears, which 
grief could not draw forth, now poured down the 
old man'*s cheeks ; and his deep sobs showed how 



MELANTHE. 123 

the long-pent-up anguish had melted at the touch 
of joy, for his heart told him that, guarded by 
Gennaro, Melanthe was comparatively safe. 

His emotion was unnoticed by his fiendish 
judges, and in a few moments his attention was 
again called to the present by the voice of the 
Inquisitor, who said to him, as another prisoner 
was led into the room, — " If you have concealed 
aught, your doom shall be as that of yonder blas- 
pheming Jew ; yet the sacred tribunal of the 
Inquisitor is merciful — time will be given you to 
consider. Look on ; but, on peril of your life, 
speak not." 

The new victim offered a strong contrast in 
appearance to him who had so narrowly escaped. 
The Jew, whose riches were the real object of 
the Inquisitors, was a man in the prime of life, and 
of striking beauty of person. Tall, strong, and 
undaunted, he eyed his persecutors with an air of 
ineffable disdain ; and apparently his fine and 
powerful appearance raised some slight degree of 
uneasiness in the breasts of his judges, for one of 
them, on a sign from the superior disappeared, and 
returned with a reinforcement of two officials, 



124 MELANTHE. 

making their number amount to six, without in- 
cluding tlie Cardinal or Hassan. The first act of 
the new comers was to bind the arms of the latter 
closely behind him, thereby preventing any chance 
of succour to the unhappy prisoner, even should 
Hassan have been inclined to offer it. A short 
examination then followed, in which the Jew stoutly 
denied the sin of blasphemy, and as resolutely 
refused to render up to the secret tribunal the 
riches of which he was possessed, and which it was 
known he had placed in security. 

The sentence of death by torture was then pro- 
nounced upon him, the judge pausing in the 
midst, to point out the leniency of the secret and 
merciful tribunal of the Inquisition, which allowed 
to the prisoner the opportunity of confession during 
any period of his punishment. This over, the Chief 
Inquisitor laid his hand upon a particular corner 
of the table, and immediately the sullen clang of 
a loud though muffled bell was heard. It tolled 
as if for one already dead ; and, as the dismal sound 
rung slowly on the ear, the panels of the apart- 
ment opposite to the spot where the prisoner stood, 
gradually withdrew from each other, and a bright 



MELANTHE. 125 

light Streamed into the room, disclosing the myste- 
ries of the one adjoining. Four men, whose masks 
and close-fitting garments of red marked them as 
executioners, stood by the wheel, which, with all 
its horrible apparatus, was distinctly seen. The 
men, who held in their hands thongs of leather, 
while their sleeves were tucked up above the elbow, 
as if in token of their trade, advanced to the 
sliding door of the room, wliere the Inquisitors 
still stood in dread array, A long and deep 
silence was broken by the same harsh tones that 
had been heard before. 

" Confess !" said the Inquisitor, as he marked 
the eye of the prisoner wandering over the horrible 
instruments displayed to his gaze. 

" Never !" replied the Jew firmly. 

" Confess !" repeated the Inquisitor, after a few 
moments of silence. 

" Never !" again exclaimed the Jew. " Never 
shall my tongue condemn to beggary my children, 
and my wife ! It is my gold you want. Ha ! 
ha ! ha ! Devils ! do your worst. Nathan, the 
blaspheming Jew, despises, and spits upon you !" 

The signal was given ere the words had passed 



126 MELANTHE. 

his lips, and the frenzied laugh of defiance almost 
mingled with the shriek which the first moments 
of agony forced from the victim. Firmly bound 
to the chair, his arras and legs were fixed and com- 
pressed so as to force the blood to the extremities ; 
and long needles placed under the nails were 
driven in with hammers until concealed in the 
flesh. This was continued until the prisoner fainted ; 
upon his recovery, the same questions were put to 
him, but without success. 

Finding their efforts ineffectual, the Inquisitors 
desisted from their examination, and the second 
torture was ordered. The prisoner being placed in 
the middle of the room, his hands were bound 
behind his back. A rope was passed through the 
thongs, and then drawn cross ways through a pulley 
fixed to the ceiling of the room. The blood of 
Hassan froze in his veins, as he perceived two of 
the executioners take hold of each end of the rope, 
which, being of considerable length, depended to 
the ground, and with a simultaneous movement, 
prepare to raise their victim to the ceiling. As 
the Jew felt the strain upon his arms, by a violent 
effort he contrived so to straighten them, that his 



MELANTHE. 127 

whole weight rested on his hands, and he reached, 
unhurt, the giddy height of the pulley. But this 
could not baffle the murderous skill of his tor- 
mentors. With a sudden jerk, they slackened the 
ropes, and checking them as the form of the 
prisoner was within a few feet of the ground, the 
shoulders turned in their sockets, rising above the 
head, and the wretched man dangled to and fro, 
suspended by his now powerless hands ! In this 
position, he was again urged to confess, and upon his 
refusal, the executioners continued to pull the rope 
alternately, and with such violence, that the head and 
body of the prisoner struck the stone walls, which 
soon were smeared with blood. The groans that 
broke from the poor victim showed how terrible was 
the anguish he endured ; at length making a sign to 
the executioners to pause, the ropes were lowered, 
and the Chief Inquisitor approached. The crushed 
and mutilated form of the unhappy Jew awoke no 
pity in the breasts of these monsters of bigotry, 
and it seemed almost a mockery as the official 
placed his hand upon the pulse, as the dislocated 
arms lay extended far above the head of the 
prisoner, who had sunk upon the ground. That 



128 MELANTHE. 

life still remained, was evident, from the exhortation 
with which the hypocrite strove to convince the 
Jew of the enormity of his offence, and persuade 
him to buy his peace from Heaven by the sacrifice 
of his treasures to the Holy Church. 

" Never ! never !'' faintly whispered the prisoner, 
whose voice was stifled by his groans, while the 
blood which streamed from his ears and mouth 
rendered the spectacle still more appalling. One 
by one the Inquisitors now approached, each en- 
deavouring, by the most bitter taunts, to extort the 
secret for which they panted. But all was useless. 
The prisoner could not, or would not speak ; and 
uttering vehement curses upon his obstinacy, the 
Inquisitors gave the sign to proceed. 

Once again the mangled wretch was raised by 
his hands ; but the joints no longer crackled, for 
the bones of both arms were broken. As soon as 
he hung midway in the air, two of the executioners 
turning a small handle, fixed in each side of the 
wall, the floor in the centre of the apartment 
slowly opened, and a large black cistern, filled with 
water, was seen. In an instant, a heavy plunge and 
the slackening of the ropes told for what purpose 



MELANTHE. 120 

it had been provided ; and the executioners ad- 
vancing to the edge, just prevented the drowning 
wretch from sinking beneath the surface, while the 
Inquisitor continued to urge him to confession. 
Perhaps it was the extreme pain of his broken and 
disjointed limbs — perhaps it was the desire of a 
death more speedy than he had dared to expect ; 
but after the first struggles which the suddenness 
of the transition as well as fear had provoked, the 
violence of the prisoner subsided, and he lay a 
helpless weight in the hands of his tormentors. 

Their purpose thus partially defeated, the execu- 
tioners received an order to desist. The Jew was 
withdrawn from the water, and the yawning chasm 
in the floor was closed. The hands of the prisoner 
being unbound, his arms were straightened by his 
side, and he was laid upon the ground, where, after 
a cordial had been administered to him, he was 
suffered to remain for some time, in order to recover 
sufficient strength for that which he had yet to 
undergo. His eyes were closed, and he breathed 
with difficulty ; but the mute agony of his wan 
countenance, and his mangled limbs, from which 
the blood continued to flow, made no change in the 
G 5 



130 MELANTHE. 

intentions of the incarnate fiends who surrounded 
him. 

A door in the side of the room was opened, and a 
shriek broke from the lips of Hassan, as he beheld 
the preparations for the fire question. A monstrous 
grate, filled with the glowing embers of charcoal, 
stood by the side of an inclined plane, or couch, of 
small iron bars, across which a sort of cradle to 
confine each limb was placed. This was what was 
called the Live Torture, the hollow beneath the 
bars being filled with live coals ; but on the other 
side of the room the means of a slower process 
were visible, in the form of a raised bed of brick 
work, beneath which glowed the light of several 
small furnaces, any one of which might be extin- 
guished at pleasure, thus inflicting only a partial 
torture, as the occasion required. 

It was not to either of these that the present 
victim was destined ; and Hassan, as he marked the 
movements of the executioners, beheld a third mode, 
which, if more slow, might be productive of still 
greater agony. From beneath the high grate which 
contained the charcoal, and which was about three 
feet from the ground, a huge iron tray upon wheels 



MELANTHE. 131 

was slowly rolled forth ; and the chains which hung 
from either side of it showed the destination to 
which the executioners were about to consign the 
dying man. 

Hassan looked at the dropping coals and the 
fearful glare which must almostly instantly roast 
the flesh upon the bones of whoever was placed 
beneath that grate, and his sense of helplessness 
gave way before the accumulated terrors of the 
scene. Springing forwards with a scream, which 
startled the bystanders by its horror, he threw him- 
self suddenly between the fire and the two men who 
were about to place their victim beneath it, im- 
ploring at the same time, that a speedier death 
might in mercy be dealt to the prisoner. The 
frantic energy of the old man suspended for a 
moment the movements of the executioners, and the 
words he had uttered reached the ear of the already 
expiring victim. With an effort of strength, 
almost superhuman, he freed himself from the 
grasp of those who held him, raised himself upon 
his feet, and rushing forward with the wild fury of 
despair, dashed his head against the stone wall, and 
fell dead upon the spot ! 



132 MELAIQTHE. 

A long silence followed tliis act of desperation, 
till one of the executioners, trembling perhaps lest 
some blame might be imputed to him for his 
neglect, observed, in a low tone, " He could not 
have lasted five minutes, — he had been too long in 
the swing.'* 

" It is thy accursed interference that has thus 
robbed the church of her rights. The sacred tri- 
bunal shall award thee thy deserts."" These words 
were addressed in a menacing tone to Hassan by 
the Chief Inquisitor; but before any one could 
reply, a hurried knocking was heard at the door of 
the outer room. Immediately the entrance to the 
fire chamber was closed upon the dead body of the 
Jew and the executioners, the Inquisitors retiring 
with Hassan and the Cardinal into the outer room. 
The door was opened by Diego, and having received 
a sealed packet from the officer without, a whisper 
passed between two of the Inquisitors, who beckoned 
the chief to follow them. 

'' The fugitive is discovered — taken in her flight 
across the mountains," were the first words uttered 
by Borgia ; and in a tone of triumph, which showed 
how deep was the interest of the news to him. 



MELANTHE. 133 

" His Holiness/' he continued, " makes it a per- 
sonal request that the prisoner Hassan, having 
taken the usual oaths of secrecy, may be restored 
to freedom, and offers a purse of gold to such as 
have been instrumental to his capture." 

The Inquisitors bowed low at this announcement, 
for they were well aware that the Pope, as well as 
the Cardinal, would pay largely for their services. 
The mention of the Pope's name was but a feint on 
the side of Borgia, for the letter beheld in his hand 
was in fact an offer of treaty from the Brigand 
chief, into whose power Melanthe had fallen. A few 
words of courtesy and explanation followed ; and 
the Cardinal prepared to throw off his disguise, 
and to quit the'prison, whose terrors could no longer 
further his designs. 

" Your Eminence will surely drink another cup 
of that good wine, and supper must be ready by 
this time," whispered Diego, as they quitted the 
secret chamber. The Cardinal assented ; and, with- 
out appearing to give a thought to any thing he 
had witnessed, calmly turned with his companion 
from the horrors of the torture to the luxurious 
comforts of " the Red Room." 



CHAPTER XII. 

From the hour when, at the instigation of Luca 
Pitti, the Pope had selected a field for the services 
of Monteseccoj at a distance from Rome, the same 
power had been constantly exerted to prevent the 
return of the Condottiere to the city. The insub- 
ordination of the many small dependencies and 
fortified castles, situated upon the borders of the 
Roman territory, in some degree gave colour to the 
pretext of keeping him with his troops encamped 
in the neighbourhood of the insurgents. But the 
success of his arms could not reconcile Montesecco 
to this petty warfare. His spirit began to chafe, 
and he panted for some enterprise more worthy of 
achievement. 

Before many months had passed, his desire was 
gratified — an insurrection of a serious nature broke 
out at Perugia. The imposition of a trifling tax 



MELANTHE. 135 

upon bread was magnified into an attack upon the 
rights of the people. They rose in a mass, demo- 
lishing in their fury the stores of grain, and threat- 
ening destruction to the city. By a forced march, 
ere the second day had closed, the forces of the 
Pope, under the command of Montesecco, appeared 
before their walls ; but the redoubted name of the 
Condottiere could not calm the spirit of rebellion 
which had arisen. The insurgents closed their gates 
against the troops of the Pope, and the affrighted 
magistrates, with some of the principal citizens, 
took refuge in the citadel, where they were upon 
the point of perishing from thirst, when the gallant 
Condottiere, after a close siege of many days, forced 
his way into the city, and delivered them from their 
perilous situation. The rebels laid down their 
arms, but not before they had lost one half of their 
forces, while the besiegers found their numbers 
scarcely diminished. 

This was a point in the art of warfare of peculiar 
importance to the Condottieri of that period, whose 
consequence mainly depended upon the numbers 
they could bring into the field, and one in which 
the genius of Montesecco shone pre-eminent. The 



136 MELANTHE. 

victory he had achieved was one of no small 
triumph; and it was witli a heart beating with 
joy and pride that the young Condottiere dis- 
patched a messenger with the news to Rome, adding, 
at the same time, a prayer that leave of absence 
might be granted, in order that he might, in per- 
son, lay the details of the campaign at the feet of 
his Holiness. The messenger departed, and, with 
an anxious heart, Montesecco awaited his return. 

Latterly fortune appeared to have smiled upon 
him. A few days before the fall of Perugia, a 
letter from Luca Pitti had been conveyed to the 
Condottiere, retracting his opposition to the attach- 
ment of Montesecco to Melanthe, and permitting 
him, if he still so desired, to demand her in mar- 
riage. From that moment he seemed to tread on 
air. The gloom, which had so long oppressed him, 
vanished ; and the extraordinary , circumstance of 
his never having received any reply to the commu- 
nications which he imagined must have reached 
her, was construed, by the buoyancy of his present 
mood, into an accident of very possible occurrence. 
He did not, or would not, recollect that not one of 
the many messengers he had dispatched, had ever 



MELANTHE. 137 

returned to give account of his mission. Faithful 
and secure in his own constancy and affection, he 
had steeled his heart against the admission of doubt, 
and awaited with trembling impatience the hour, 
when, released from his military duties, he might 
hasten to Rome, and claim the hand which he 
coveted beyond all earthly treasures. The days 
which must necessarily intervene before the return 
of his messenger, were passed by Montesecco in a 
state of restless anxiety, which, in vain, he endea- 
voured to control; and, in order to free himself 
from the irksome duties which a sojourn within the 
city would have entailed upon him, he caused his 
tent to be pitched without the walls, and in its 
retirement abandoned himself to delicious dreams 
of the future. 

It was the tenth day since the officer cliarged 
with the dispatches, had set out for Rome, when, 
as Montesecco sat alone, the curtain, which shaded 
the entrance to his tent, was drawn aside, and 
Luca Pitti stood before him. With the delight of 
a child, the Condottiere sprung towards him ; and 
seizing his hands, poured forth his thanks for the 
kindness of the letter he had received; with an 



138 MELANTHE. 

energy and rapidity of utterance which proved to 
Luca Pitti the depth of affection with which the 
young man regarded Melanthe. Again and again, 
did Montesecco call down blessings upon him for 
the consent which he had so generously given, and 
paint in glowing colours the joy which such an act 
would also convey to the bosom of Melanthe. But 
to all this passion of gratitude and happiness, Luca 
Pitti answered not a word. 

" Speak," cried Montesecco, " I entreat ; tell 
me when I shall see her. What says his Holiness ? 
Will he grant the leave of absence I have asked T'' 

" My son," replied Luca Pitti, using the same 
term of affection as formerly, " we have far graver 
matters upon which to confer than love or marriage ! 
There are many women in the world, and abund- 
ance of time to woo them." 

" To me there is but one," began Montesecco, 
as his cheek flushed at the contemptuous manner of 
his companion; but Luca Pitti, with a forbidding 
motion of his hand, interrupted him, and observed, 

" I know all that you would say ; but I also 
have much to impart." 

" Is my leave granted ? " impetuously asked 



MELANTHE. 139 

Montesecco, for his whole heart was full of Me- 
lanthe, and the desire of returning to Rome. 

" It is,"" replied Luca Pitti ; " but the place of 
your destination is not Rome — you are appointed 
Ambassador of the Pope to the city of Florence." 

" How ? " said Montesecco, in a tone of suprise, 
" Ambassador to Florence ? The disagreements 
therefore between the Pope and Lorenzo " 

" Are forgotten," interposed Luca Pitti quickly. 
" Each party has made some concession, and the 
most friendly relations are established between 
them ; insomuch that the young Cardinal, RafFaelle 
Riario, is appointed Legate, and is even now on 
his way to Florence in company with Jacopo 
Salviati, the Archbishop of Pisa." 

" The Archbishop, whom the Florentines refused 
to acknowledge, saying he was an enemy to their 
state — this is indeed wonderful," exclaimed Monte- 
secco, who was overwhelmed with astonishment at 
a communication so unexpected. 

" Wonderful indeed," replied Luca Pitti ; " but 
the wisdom of the Holy See is manifest, and the 
friendly visit of these two great dignitaries of the 
church cannot fail of inspiring the Florentines 



140 MELAXTHE. 

with feelings of confidence and affection. Your 
presence, as the Ambassador of his Holiness, will 
add much to the weight of so august a meeting.*" 

" But not yet. Surely I may first return to 
Rome, — for only a day— for an hour," exclaimed 
Montesecco eagerly, as Luca Pitti shook his head 
gravely, and said, 

" Do not think of it/' 

" Why not ? speak, oh speak to me. Melanthe ! 
oh ! why should I not seek her ? " said Montesecco, 
in a troubled voice. 

" If you knew all," answered Luca Pitti ; and 
his manner assumed a sternness, which froze the 
heart of his hearer, " you would not desire it."" 

" All "" exclaimed the young man, and for 

a few moments his agitation took from him the 
power of articulation : but recovering, he gasped 
forth, in a hoarse whisper, " Is she dead .^" and as 
the words passed his lips, he sunk upon a seat, 
grasping, as he did so, the curtain of the tent for 
support, while he leant forward, fixing his eyes 
upon the face of Luca Pitti with an expression of 
wild terror that caused the latter to turn aside his 
glance. 



MELAMTHE. 141 

" Not dead ! " he exclaimed almost involun- 
tarily, and then he paused, as if uncertain how to 
proceed ; but the hysterical sob that broke from 
his listener recalled the startled senses of the 
designing villain. 

" Not dead ! " he repeated, " would that she 
had died before " 

" Before what ? "" cried Montesecco, with a 
vehemence that made Luca Pitti tremble. He 
stooped to the ear of his excited listener, and 
whispered a few words, as though it were even to 
his black soul the most fitting mode of utterance to 
a falsehood so heinous. A cry of such agony burst 
from the lips of the young man, that the cruel Luca 
Pitti was touched, and he gazed upon the large 
bright tears now falling rapidly from the eyes that, 
but a moment before, were radiant with the heart's 
joy, until a feeling somewhat akin to compunction 
entered into his breast. 

" Be comforted, my son ! " he said kindly ; but 
Montesecco did not appear to hear him. 

" Dishonoured ! false ! Melanthe ! '' he 

murmured, in tones of the most bitter sorrow. 
Then, as if all at once his thoughts had taken 



142 MELANTHE. 

another direction, he started to his feet, ex- 
claiming, 

" I ask not, who is the man that hath done this — 
I would not hear his name until a sacred oath had 
passed my lips to tear his traitor heart from his 
breast. Hear me, just Heaven!*" he continued, 
raising his clasped hands, while the frenzy of 
despair glared from his starting eyes — " hear me 
swear that he who hath done a deed so foul shall 
know no rest, nor peace— by day — by night, by 
land or sea, — will I track his steps, until my howling 
curses ring in his ear ; no darkness shall hide him 
from my view, — no sanctuary shield him from my 
vengeance, — nor will I pause, even at the altar's 
steps, until I drain the life-blood from his trea- 
cherous heart. This is my oath : now," he added, 
with a calmness appalling in its despair, " tell me 
his name.*" 

" I will not tell you,'" said Luca Pitti, whose 
subtle imagination had contrived a mode still more 
certain of entangling Montesecco in the net he had 
spread for him. " I will not tell you, until you 
have convinced yourself that all I have advanced 
is true. I have said Melanthe had fled from Rome 



p 



MELANTHE. 143 

before I left the city. Go thither, ascertain the 
fact, then meet me at Florence— the secret of her 
present abode will not be difficult to discover.'*' 

" Then there is hope," said Montesecco, gather- 
ing comfort from the manner rather than from the 
words of Luca Pitti. 

" None ! but still I would have you convinced. 
Do as I have said — I will wait your coming at 
Florence.*" 

That evening, with a heart bursting with an- 
guish, Montesecco set out for Rome ; and Luca 
Pitti, without uneasiness, saw him depart ; for he 
well knew that his inquiries would only meet with 
such answers as must confirm the tale invented 
merely for the base purpose of implanting in the 
bosom of Montesecco an implacable hatred against 
Lorenzo. 

Of so great importance to the conspirators 
against the Medici was the co-operation of the 
Condottiere and his troops, that the crafty Luca 
Pitti had designed the only mode of enlisting him 
on their side. Jealousy, and hatred, and disap- 
pointed love, were the levers by which he intended 
to overcome the hitherto immoveable integrity and 



144 MELANTHE. 

honour of the young Condottierc. Thoroughly 
versed in the workings of the human heart, the 
one vulnerable point had been adroitly hit by 
Luca Pitti. The arrow was in the wound, 
there to rankle and fester, until endurance was 
exhausted. 

To have declared to Montesecco, in the first 
outbreak of his despair, who was the rival who had 
thus hurled him from the summit of happiness, 
might have aroused suspicion ; and Luca Pitti 
cunningly forbore to incur so great a risk. All 
had been so arranged by this adept in deceit, that 
the answers which Montesecco must receive in 
Rome, apparently from uninterested persons, would 
indelibly fix the shame and disappearance of Me- 
lanthe upon Lorenzo. Mariana, who alone was 
acquainted with the discovery of Elphenor, and 
the subsequent visit of Melanthe to the Cardinal, 
had been secretly removed to a distance, and her 
place supplied by one well tutored as to the in- 
telligence she was to impart. All other sources of 
information had been studiously cut off; and Luca 
Pitti, satisfied that no precaution had been neg- 
lected, looked forward with confidence to seeing 



MELANTHE. 145 

the name of Montesecco enrolled in the already 
formidable list of conspirators ; and, in anticipation 
of the joyful event, he quitted Perugia a few hours 
after the departure of his victim, and, with a spirit 
considerably elated by the progress of his villainous 
scheme, took his way towards Florence. 



VOL. III. 



CHAPTER XIIL 

After many days of travelling, rendered doubly 
tedious to Melanthe by the state of weakness to 
which constant fear and agitation had reduced her, 
she entered Florence accompanied by Gennaro. 
AVay worn and weary, she could only cast a hurried 
glance upon the splendour by which she was sur- 
rounded ; but still a feeling of satisfaction thrilled 
through her breast, as she looked back at the beau- 
tiful amphitheatre of hills which rose between her 
and her persecutors. 

Her first care was to seek out the person to whom 
Vanozia had directed her, and, after an infinity of 
trouble, she succeeded in discovering his abode; 
but it was only to encounter disappointment, for 
the man was unprepared to see her, — had not 
received any instructions from Rome, and was 
evidently perplexed by the questions addressed to 
him. Not less unsatisfactory was his answer to the 
inquiry of Melanthe as to where she might find a 



MELANTHE. 147 

lodging for the night. He certainly gave her two 
or three directions, but accompanied each with an 
assurance that he did not think there was a room or 
a bed in Florence that was not bespoken ; for the 
Pope's Legate, and the new Archbishop of Pisa, 
with a host of knights, and nobles, and churchmen 
in their train, had just arrived, and great feasts and 
games were to be held in their honour, to witness 
which all the citizens of Florence had quitted their 
villas, and come to sojourn in the city. 

This was not very encouraging ; but Melanthe, 
thanking the man for his instructions, turned her 
horse in the direction recommended, and set out 
upon her search. For a long time it was fruitless ; 
her informant had not exaggerated in his statement ; 
for many of those to whom she addressed herself, 
assured her that they had given up their own 
apartments, so great was the number of strangers 
that had flocked to the city. 

At length, however, chance accomplished that in 
which the best endeavours of Melanthe had failed. 
An old woman, happening to pass along the street, 
observed the disappointment visible in the counte- 
nance of the stranger, as she had applied, again 



148 MELANTHE. 

unsuccessfully, for admittance, and came up to her, 
assuring her that if she would be satisfied with 
humble lodgings, she might be accommodated at 
her house. Melanthe gladly accepted the pro- 
posal ; and following Caterina, for so her con- 
ductress was named, was soon installed in a 
comfortable, though homely apartment; while 
Gennaro, whom Caterina instantly declared to be 
the brother of the beautiful Signora, was led to 
an adjoining room. Melanthe was not sorry when 
she observed the persuasion of the old woman as 
to the relationship of Gennaro ; and although the 
evasion made the blood rush to her cheek, she felt 
that to insist upon revealing to a stranger the truth 
of the circumstances in which she was placed, 
would be an act of folly. Still, any concealment was 
painful to her frank and upright nature ; and she 
continued to brood over it with feelings of regret 
and uneasiness. 

Meanwhile, the unconscious object of her annoy- 
ance sat alone in his chamber, a prey to the most 
sorrowful emotions. The excitement of the last 
few weeks had been too great to permit his giving 
much thought to the future. The agony he had 



MELAKTHE. 149 

endured upon the disappearance of Melanthe, — his 
ceaseless watching, first to ascertain her abode, and 
then to effect her escape, had strained his mind to 
a pitch which had prevented him from indulging 
in selfish considerations. No sooner, however, was 
the danger past than a re-action took place, and his 
grief returned. Once in Florence, he could no 
longer be to Melanthe that which he had been ; 
while on their harassing journey, she had looked 
solely to him for support. She had already found 
a friend — she would find others, and poor Gennaro 
would be forgotten ! Scarcely an hour had elapsed 
since they had entered the city, apd yet, in the 
solitude of his chamber, Gennaro silently wept. 
He felt that he was separated from Melanthe ; and 
the thought was so full of misery, that his young 
heart bowed beneath it. His love was so humble 
and true, that, from the hour in which he had become 
aware that any expression of it would be displeasing 
to its object, he had struggled to conceal the feeling 
which was fast wearing his life away. The fear of 
giving pain to her he loved, overcame the natural 
anxiety of an affectionate heart to paint the anguish 
it endured ; and during the journey no brother's 



150 MELAIJTHE. 

love could have been more free from passion than 
that with which the poor dumb boy had watched 
over his charge. 

Deeply touched by his gentleness and forbear- 
ance, Melanthe wept over the fatal affection 
she had so unconsciously inspired ; but prudently 
forbore, when in the presence of Gennaro, to show, 
by any increased coldness of manner, that she even 
suspected his secret. Thus somewhat of their 
former confidence had been restored ; and during 
the journey, the hours had passed to him in a 
delirium of joy. Happy to see her, to ride by her 
side, and tender her such little services as their posi- 
tion demanded, he thought not what was to be his 
future fate ; — could the present have endured, he 
would have asked no more. But once within the 
streets of Florence, his heart misgave him ; and the 
idea of Montesecco, of his own jealous fears, 
and of the preference of Melanthe for the stranger 
all rushed upon him. He remembered how often 
he had attempted in his mute way an inquiry 
respecting the Condottiere, and how constantly 
Melanthe had avoided the subject, which he felt 
sure was not from having misunderstood his mean- 



MELANTHE. 151 

ing, for from childhood they had had a language 
of their own, and their conversation was carried on 
by signs as rapidly almost as though they had spoken. 

All this now came back to the mind of Gennaro, 
and the feeling of jealousy and anguish was so great, 
that he almost resolved, now that Melanthe was 
in safety, to return to Rome, and await the arrival 
of Hassan, in order to inform him of their late 
danger and escape. The impetuous nature of the 
young Greek had nearly urged hihi to resolve 
upon this step, when the entrance of Caterina, 
the woman to whom the house belonged, roused 
his attention. She made him a sign to descend, 
and soon the kind and gentle smile of Melanthe, 
as she beckoned him to sit by her side at supper, 
put to flight all other feelings, and he deter- 
mined to remain at Florence. 

A few days of repose were absolutely necessary? 
to restore to Melanthe her accustomed strength, 
and also to allow her to provide herself with such 
articles of dress as might enable her to appear in 
public ; for as yet she wore the peasant's garb, in 
which she had escaped from Rome. Still the seclu- 
sion which she was forced to observe, did not 



152 MELANTHE. 

prevent her making constant inquiries of the per- 
son to whom she had been directed by Vanozia. 
No information had been received from Rome, and 
the fate of her father and of Hassan was therefore 
still uncertain. 

This continued suspense soon became intolerable 
to her ; and Melanthe resolved that if another 
day passed without bringing the desired intelli- 
gence, she would overcome her scruples, and claim 
the support and protection which had been so 
generously offered to her by Lorenzo. While at 
a distance from Florence, she had easily determined 
to throw herself upon his friendship ; but now 
that the hour was come, she shrunk from the 
thought of appearing as a suppliant before the 
man whose affection she had rejected. The moment 
also of her arrival was singularly unpropitious for 
any private communication with . Lorenzo :• — sur- 
rounded by his illustrious guests, how could he 
withdraw himself from their society, and the duties 
of his station, in order to devote himself to the 
furtherance of her interests ? Perhaps he might 
have forgotten her — forgotten the promise he had 
made; and the heart of Melanthe sunk as she 



MELANTHE. 153 

thought of her poor father, helpless in his dungeon, 
and watching, day after day, for the return of his 
child. 

Many weeks had now elapsed since she had quitted 
Home, many more might elapse ere a word of 
comfort would reach him, and in the mean time 
could she hesitate ? As this idea arose, the timidity 
of Melanthe gave way, and she resolved to lose 
no time in endeavouring to see Lorenzo. This, 
to any person more versed in the usages of the 
world, especially in those of Florence, would have 
been a matter of little difficulty ; for the ear of 
Lorenzo was at all times accessible ; and many 
hours were daily set apart by him for the reception 
of those who claimed his services in their behalf. 
Ignorant of this, and magnifying to herself the 
difficulty and publicity of presenting herself to his 
notice, Melanthe heard with delight that on the 
following day a masque would be given by Lorenzo 
at his villa of Fiesole, to which the greater part 
of the citizens of Florence would be admitted. 

The gay meeting was to be held in honour of the 
young Cardinal, RafFaelle Riario, who had arrived 
with the Archbishop of Pisa, Francesco Salviati, 



154 MELANTHE. 

the dignitaries of the church not deeming it dero- 
gatory to their sacred character to be present at 
similar festivals ; and Melanthe preferred entering 
with the crowd, and endeavouring to seize a favour- 
able opportunity of discovering herself to Lorenzo, 
to making the demand of a formal interview. The 
kindness of her hostess soon procured to her the 
means of carrying her wishes into effect. All 
strangers, visitors to Florence, were included in 
the invitation of Lorenzo to the masque ; and 
it was arranged that, under the escort of some 
relations of Caterina's, Melanthe and Gennaro 
should the next day proceed to Fiesole. As soon, 
however, as this arrangement was made known to 
Gennaro, his countenance fell, and he gave Me- 
lanthe to understand, by signs, that nothing should 
induce him to go. All her endeavours were vain 
to persuade him to accompany herj — he only shook 
his head, and sighed ; and though, when the moment 
of her departure arrived, his eyes filled with tears, 
as he looked upon the preparations that were 
making, and beheld her put on the robe and mask 
she had selected, he remained inflexible, and 
Melanthe accompanied by her new friends departed 
for Fiesole. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

The persons who had so kindly invited Me- 
lanthe to accompany them to the masque at Fiesole 
belonged to the middle class of life ; yet, by the 
wise regulations of Lorenzo, they were not upon 
that account excluded from a participation in the 
enjoyments of their superiors in station. 

The whole body of the Florentine citizens en- 
gaged in commerce was divided into companies, or, 
as they were then called, arts. These comprised 
the greater and the lesser arts. The former con- 
sisted of those belonging to professions, or exercising 
the higher descriptions of commerce ; the latter 
were confined to trade and handicrafts. Of both 
of these classes the officers of the companies, and 
such individuals as were distinguished by influence 
and industry, were readily admitted to the assem- 
blies of the nobles and chief citizens, an arrange- 
ment which materially contributed to the extreme 



156 MELANTHE. 

popularity enjoyed by Lorenzo de' Medici. The 
lively and impressionable people were charmed 
with the gaiety and magnificence of their young 
ruler ; and the announcement of any new festival, 
instead of exciting the feeling of discontent so 
natural to those excluded from such enjoyments as 
they might reasonably have hoped to share, was 
always received with enthusiasm by the whole 
population of Florence. 

The villa of the Medici, near the beautiful hill 
of Fiesole, was the scene of many a courtly pageant. 
Nothing, which taste could devise or art accom- 
plish, had been omitted to render the spot one of 
enchantment. The house had been built and fur- 
nished by Cosmo de** Medici in a style of regal 
magnificence, and was situated in the midst of plea- 
sure grounds so extensive, that they gave to the 
rich vale, of which they formed a part, the 
appearance of one vast garden. Above rose the 
picturesque hill, the sides of which were festooned 
with vines, flinging their branches from tree to tree, 
as if in the very wantonness of luxuriance, the dark 
foliage of the elm and chestnut contrasting beauti- 
fully with the bright green fig and silver-leaved 



MELANTHE. 157 

olive, that trembled and whitened in the breeze. 
And as the eye turned to the plain, the surface of 
the gentle slope which led to it was broken by 
stately cedars, interspersed among the groves of 
forest trees, between which gleamed the soft ver- 
dure of the turf, enamelled with a profusion of 
beds of the choicest flowers, and watered by 
numerous streams, supplying fountains which filled 
the air with delicious coolness. From the nature 
of the ground, this water had been necessarily 
brought by means of aqueducts from a considerable 
distance ; but all was so perfectly contrived, 
that any appearance of formality was avoided, and 
those who loved to watch the course of the rippling 
stream, as it murmured through the dark chestnut 
woods that clothed the rear of the villa, little 
imagined how much labour and cost had been 
expended in order to produce so admirable an 
effect. 

Two hours before sunset, IMelanthe arrived at 
the gates of the villa. The scene of enchantment 
which opened before her was so novel in its kind, 
that she remained standing for a considerable time 
upon the mound, which, crowned by a lofty cedar. 



158 MELANTHE, 

was the point of attraction to all such as preferred 
the part of spectator to that of joining in the gaiety 
of the throng. Tlie whole of the vast garden, 
interspersed with woods, which for a considerable 
distance extended over the plain below, was covered 
with groupes of masquers. The dazzling effect 
produced by the variety of colours in their gay 
dresses lighted up by the glories of an Italian sun, 
at first prevented Melanthe from distinguishing 
the characters assumed ; and on an invitation from 
her companions she descended from the eminence 
where she had placed herself, in order to take a 
nearer view of the different arrangements of a 
festival, the renown of which eclipsed all that were 
attempted in imitation of it. 

There were many in that gay crowd, who, like 
Melanthe and her companions, had adopted the 
disguise of the short mask and .flowing robe of 
coloured silk, less with a view to concealment than 
to avoid the appearance of having retained their 
ordinary dress, the effect of which would have in 
some degree marred the brilliancy of the pageant 
in which they had been called to bear a part. 
These were, however, generally the more staid part 



I 



MELANTHE. 159 

of the community, and formed a very insignificant 
portion of the gay and splendour-loving people 
who thronged the scene. 

As Melanthe moved on, she was struck by the 
extreme order which seemed self-preserved in so 
numerous an assemblage. The Florentine people, 
accustomed to mingle in the brilliant festivals and 
masques given by the rulers of their rich and mag- 
nificent republic, entered at once into the spirit of 
the scene. Secure of their reception, and confident 
in the liberality and generous profusion of their 
entertainers, each citizen seemed to feel an indi- 
vidual responsibility for the success of the pageant 
in which he was by courtesy an actor. There was 
no hurry — no pushing, or scrambling for places or 
precedence — all was gay, harmonious, and courtly ; 
and so much care had been bestowed, not only 
upon the costumes and accessories of those who had 
chosen to adopt either historical or mythological 
subjects, but also upon the localities most con- 
ducive to the good effect of their first appearance, 
that each group seemed to occupy, as if by magic, 
the exact spot appropriate to its character. 

The classic spirit of the age, as well as the 



160 MELANTHE. 

individual taste of Lorenzo, was traceable through- 
out, and with a most happy effect, in not only 
elevating the mind by higher associations, but in 
preventing the monotony always incidental to gor- 
geousness when allowed to predominate over the 
airiness of fancy, or the simplicity of good taste. 

In imitation of the ancients, many of the mas- 
quers had adopted the garb of different Schools ; 
and among the long-robed and bearded sages who, 
beneath the wide-spreading oaks overhanging the 
stream, seemed, as they walked to and fro, to 
revive the disputations of the Academus, the com- 
panions of Melanthe pointed out to her notice some 
of the most eminent scholars 'and artists of the 
day. 

Passing this grave assembly, Melanthe gained 
the end of the wood, when her ear caught the 
sound of music, and in another moment she found 
herself in front of a light and graceful temple, 
standing on a slight eminence above the stream. 
A beautiful boy, whose hyacinthine curls hung to 
his shoulders, was singing to a golden lyre ; and 
round the rock, upon which sat this youthful repre- 
sentative of Apollo, were appropriately grouped 



MELANTHE. 161 

nine of the fairest flowers of Florence, each lovely 
enough to have made the bosom of the gentle Muse 
she personated heave with envy of mortal charms. 
Gladly would Melanthe have paused to examine 
more closely faces so bright and beautiful ; but her 
companions hurried her forward, and turning to 
the shade of a grove, the nymphs of Diana, 
equipped for the chace, were seen following 
their stately Goddess through a neighbouring 
glade. 

Many other sylvan sports were pictured in this 
wooded glen, and Fauns and Satyrs played their 
merry antics, startling the passers by as they peeped 
beneath the branches of the low-sweeping chestnut- 
trees ; and the vine-crowned Bacchantes danced 
around the bower of their God, and, with their 
attendants, made the woods echo to their jovial 
strains. 

But amidst all this gaiety the heart of Melanthe 
grew sad, she scarce knew why, and tears started 
to her eyes as, emerging from the wood, she found 
herself as it were transported to the country of her 
birth, though alas ! to her it was known only by 
tradition. A joyous band of Greek maidens were 



162 MELANTHE. 

dancing the Romaika on the smooth green sward, 
and the melodious tones of the leader of the mea- 
sure thrilled through the bosom of the poor exile, 
who, as she stood in the country of the stranger, 
thought with a bitter sigh on the ruined glories of 
her own bright land ! She did not dare to stay, 
and hastening forwards, the sound of the Grecian 
song was soon drowned in the clang of the cymbals 
that ushered in a gorgeous train, and the turbaned 
brows and jewelled scimitars of the princes of the 
East, cast into shade a company of lowly pilgrims, 
pacing meekly by with their shell-adorned robes 
and sandalled feet. 

Melanthe turned from the crowd, and passing 
through an opening in the myrtle screen, paused 
to look upon and listen to the merry voices of a 
group of the most distinguished of the Florentine 
nobles, who, in illustration of a tale by Boccaccio, 
had seated themselves beneath the shade of some 
beautiful flowering shrubs surrounding a fountain, 
and were whiling away the hours, perhaps in remi- 
niscences where mingled the poet's name, — perhaps 
in gentle tales made sweeter poetry by the hearts 
that breathed them, or the eyes that spoke. 



MELAXTHE. 163 

But Melanthe passed them with a sigh, nor 
paused to listen to the Minstrel's song, as the lays 
of Provence sounded on her ear ; but hurried on, as 
though the gentle tones of love and joy were pain 
to hear. Many were the characters recalling the 
heroes of other days, from the laurel-crowned con- 
sul following the white robe of his lictors through 
the mazes of the crowd, to the splendour of the 
Emperors. Amongst these, the Count Girolamo 
Riaro, who personated Augustus, moved forwards 
with a mockery of state, which he would fain have 
converted into reality. Every country, and every 
age, seemed to have rendered up its mighty dead in 
all the pomp and braveries they had worn in life, and, 
to the eye of Melanthe, who was deeply versed in 
the annals of the past, they arose as so many old 
familiar faces. 

But theirs were not the features that she sought 
amongst the crowd ; though the sickliness of fancy 
ever seemed to present them to her view, showing a 
form that still, as she approached, would mock her 
touch and vanish into air. The conviction that, in 
an immense assemblage of persons, the single one 
our heart seeks, must of necessity be present, is 



164 MELANTHE. 

one of those inexplicable impressions by which 
reason is constantly overpowered. Although 
Melanthe felt that it was almost impossible that Mon- 
tesecco could be in Florence, yet from the moment 
she had first beheld the multitude which overspread 
the gardens, her eye had involuntarily sought the 
form of him she loved. As she had last seen him, 
so did the uncontrollable impulse which forced her 
on, lead her to expect he would now appear, and 
among the gay and gorgeous dresses of the crowd, 
she looked only for the light armour of Milan steel 
inlaid with gold, and the long black plume that 
was wont to shadow the proud and beautiful brow 
of the young Condottiere. 

Alas ! she looked in vain. Montesecco came 
not ; and Melanthe, chiding herself for the un- 
reasonable expectation, at the same time that she 
wiped the tear of disappointment from her eyes, 
walked to and fro with her companions, striving to 
join in their amusement. 

But the effort to keep her attention to the 
scene before her, became at length too trying, 
and she was upon the point of proposing to her 
companions that they should endeavour to approach 



MELANTHE. . 165 

' the house where she hoped to have an opportunity 
of seeing Lorenzo, when a sudden light, which illu- 
minated the whole garden, induced her to pause, 
and curiosity soon took the place of her former 
languor. Then arose a scene of such unequalled 
beauty, that at first the multitude, assembled to 
behold it, was dumb from amazement. 

At the lower part of the garden, the streams 
which watered it, had been purposely united until 
they formed a sheet of water extending to a con- 
siderable distance, and presenting the appearance 
of a broad river flowing at the foot of the hill. It 
was upon this water that was now represented one of 
those pageants which were, at that time, the rage in 
Italy, yet which, from the difficulty of their accom- 
plishment, were generally confined to two or three 
subjects. But with Lorenzo de' Medici nothing 
was difficult. Before his master mind, all obstacles 
gave way, whether in the government of his country 
or the management of his masque; and, to the 
delight of the assembled crowd, the spectacle now 
exhibited, far surpassed any thing of the kind which 
they had ever before witnessed. 



166 MELANTHE. 

The first of the floating wonders which glided 
before the eyes, was an exact representation of 
Neptune and Amphitrite, who, surrounded by 
their Tritons and the Neriads, reposed on their 
splendid car, amidst rocks of coral, so artificially 
arranged, that they seemed to grow out of the water 
upon which they glided. This was followed by illus- 
trations of Homer, amongst which Ulysses binding 
himself to the mast of his ship, in order to escape 
from his Circean tempters, was one of the most 
striking ; the Syrens being personated by some of 
the most beautiful women of Florence ; while un- 
seen musicians supplied the melody, apparently 
flowing from the golden harps carried by the lovely 
ocean nymphs. 

Many other subjects, equally well chosen for 
their beauty and scenic effect, were then displayed, 
and the mass of the people perfectly conversant 
with the immortal works of the poet, proclaimed 
their delight by the most joyous acclamations. 
During the whole of the scene, the entire bank on 
the opposide side of the water presented a con- 
tinued blaze of light, for which preparations had 



I 



MELANTHE. 167 

been duly made ; while between the different parts 
of the representation a succession of the most bril- 
liant fire-works was displayed. 

A pause of some minutes had taken place, when 
the sound of soft music, breathed as it were from 
the bosom of the sparkling waters, drew the atten- 
tion of all to the spot from whence it proceeded. 
Gradually it swelled upon the ear, till, from the 
shadow of the far woods emerged a stately vessel, 
whose masts and oars were of silver, and the sails of 
purple silk, glittering with thousands of silver stars. 
A fragrant cloud from the burning incense on her 
deck, was wafted forward byfthe gentle breeze, and, 
as it cleared away, the name of Cleopatra, mingled 
with that of Bianca de' Medici, burst from a thou- 
sand lips. It was indeed the beautiful Bianca, 
sister of Lorenzo, who appeared before the delighted 
assembly as the Egyptian Queen. Beneath a canopy 
of silver gauze, festooned with roses, she was seen 
reclining upon a couch ; her sons, fair children, re- 
presenting Cupids, kneeling by her side, and fanning 
her with peacocks' feathers. To continue the illu- 
sion, when, as the Paphian Queen rising from the 
sea, Cleopatra had glided on the wave of the 



168 MELANTHE. 

Cydnus, the management of the fairy vessel of 
Bianca was entrusted to the hands of boys disguised 
as mermaids and sea nymphs ; and such was the dex- 
terity with which they acquitted themselves, that the 
gilded bark sailed rapidly by without the slightest 
difficulty. The enthusiasm of the spectators was 
unbounded ; and the people, enchanted to see that 
one of the family who was its idol, thus con- 
descended to take a public part in their amusements, 
rent the air with shouts and blessings on the name 
of the Medici. 

It was a splendid spectacle. The day had gone 
down, but the transparency of an Italian night, left 
all distinctly visible. Above was the dark outline 
of the distant mountains, between which and the 
gardens of the villa rose the singular and pictu- 
resque hill of Fiesole, crowned with the ruins of 
its ancient city. Lower down, the dark masses of 
the woods scattered over the immense extent of 
pleasure ground, where fairy lakes glittered, and 
fountains played amidst the flowers ; and temples 
and statues innumerable peeped out from their 
leafy screens, upon the restless crowd which was 
gathered on the banks of the water, and which 



MELANTHE. 169 

looked in the glare streaming from the opposite 
side as though some of every nation had come, at 
the bidding of Lorenzo, to do honour to his feast ; 
and as if even the Gods, unwilling to lose the 
charms of a scene so fair, had descended from 
Olympus to share the joys of mortal revels. 

And Melanthe gazed around. She saw in all 
the working of that spirit so congenial to her own. 
She felt the power of that mind which could devise, 
and execute, and feel the beauty of such an hour, and 
such a scene. She heard the voices of thousands 
upraised in honour of one whose excellence she too 
acknowledged, and in the outpouring of grateful 
hearts one name was mingled with blessings and 
with prayers. One name — and she remembered 
that name might have been her own — might, if 
she so willed it, still be hers. One word, and she 
might stand as Queen upon that spot. She saw it 
all, felt it all ; and then when, by the excitement of 
the hour, and the intoxication of public approval, 
the actual conviction of the wealth, and station, and 
absolute power of Lorenzo was more vividly forced 
upon her feelings, did the mind of Melanthe waver ? 
Did she regret the words, by which she had bade 

VOL. III. I 



170 MELAXTHE. 

the lord of all she saw, rise from her feet a hope- 
less and rejected suitor ? Did she think on Mon- 
tesecco, the nameless and the poor, and did his long 
absence and apparent neglect rise up before her 
as crimes, whereby her own want of faith might be 
fully justified? No! The heart of man may 
tremble in its devotion, and lay upon a golden 
shrine its light and hollow vows ; but woman's love, 
once truly given, is changeless in its faith ! 



CHAPTER XV. 

The banquet, which followed the conclusion of 
the masque, was in accordance with the splendour 
of all that had gone before ; but as the object of 
Melanthe was, if possible, to meet with and speak 
to Lorenzo without the form of a regular announce- 
ment, which she feared might provoke more of the 
public attention than she felt equal to support, she 
accepted the offer of her companions to view from 
the gallery the circular hall of the villa, which was 
always set apart for the reception of the different 
members of the family of the Medici and the 
most distinguished of their guests. This arrange- 
ment was the effect more of the general and spon- 
taneous courtesy of the Florentines towards their 
rulers, than from any desire on the part of the latter 
to exclude others ; but when, at the conclusion of 



172 MELANTHE. 

the masque, it was announced that, in compliment 
to the Archbishop and the Legate of the Pope, 
Lorenzo would sup in the Hall of the Fountain, 
the body of the masquers took their way to the 
vast and commodious temporary apartments where 
the banquet was prepared for them in the garden, 
leaving such as were strangers, or whose curiosity 
prompted them, to take a nearer view of the re- 
nowned individuals to whom the villa belonged. 

Of this number was Melanthe ; and it was not 
without emotion that she found herself beneath the 
roof of Lorenzo. The Hall of the Fountain was 
so named from one of singular beauty by which 
it was ornamented. It was placed on the opposite 
side to the principal entrance to the hall. The 
water was so impelled that it reached almost to 
the height of the lofty ceiling, sometimes ascending 
in spiral lines, then turning in wreaths and feathery 
sprays, playing and sparkling in the light, till 
it fell, like a fairy cascade, between the fragrant 
branches of the orange and lemon trees, intermingled 
with bright flowering shrubs, arranged on either 
side of the marble basin beneath. 

The banquetting hall of this summer palace of 



MELANTHE, 173 

the Medici was circular, and of immense height, 
and entirely lined with marble of the purest white. 
Two winding staircases, intersecting each other 
at intervals, formed as it were distinct galleries, 
supported on pillars of variously coloured marbles, 
the lower range being of porphyry, the second of 
the inestimable green jasper, and the upper row 
of the pale yellow marble of Sienna. At the base 
of the fountain was a beautiful sculptured group, 
representing the despair of Galatea, and the terror 
of her attendant nymphs; and the efiect of the 
many other noble works of art ranged around the 
hall was heightened by the deep red of the porphyry, 
forming a rich base to the structure, the architec- 
tural beauty of which was the theme of every 
tongue. Countless lamps illumined the hall, those 
immediately above the fountain being variously 
coloured, which gave to the water playing in their 
light the appearance of a shower of gems. 

The banquet was spread, and the guests began 
to arrive ; and Melanthe, who had, with many 
others, placed herself on the lower gallery just 
above the principal table, watched anxiously for 



174 MELANTHE. 

the entrance of Lorenzo. In a few minutes he 
came, leaning, as he walked, upon the arm of 
Francesco Salviati, Archbishop of Pisa, and fol- 
lowed by RafFaelle Riario, the Legate of the Holy 
See, a man who, although scarcely past the age 
of boyhood, had, within the last few weeks, been 
raised by the Pope, for his own purposes, to the 
dignity of a Cardinal. 

The table was soon filled ; and the beautiful 
Bianca, having finished her part in the masque, 
entered the hall with her husband, Guglielmo de' 
Pazzi, and took the seat appointed for her, which was 
at a table close behind that occupied by Lorenzo 
and his guests. Bianca was tenderly beloved by 
her brother, and perhaps the circumstance of her 
having married into a family whose jealousy of her 
own had been always more or less overtly displayed, 
increased the desire of Lorenzo to treat her with 
peculiar distinction. ]\Ielanthe remarked, that 
during supper he many times turned to the place 
where she was seated, and apparently addressed her 
with kindness ; but the confusion of voices pre- 
vented his words being audible at a distance. 



MELANTHE. 175 

The supper was far advanced, and gaiety seemed 
at its height, when a movement was observable at 
the entrance of the hall, and an attendant an- 
nounced, in a loud voice, the arrival of the Roman 
Ambassador. The recent reconciliation of the 
Pope and the city of Florence, being considered by 
the people as an event of great importance, added 
unusual excitement to the arrival of an Ambas- 
sador from his Holiness, and every eye was strained 
towards the door, to catch the first glimpse of him, 
who, besides the dignity of office, was so distin- 
guished by military renown. In a few moments, 
the Ambassador entered the hall ; in a few more, 
curiosity had given way to admiration ; and the 
burst of applause, which rose simultaneously on all 
sides, and the cries of " Long live the Ambassador 
of the Pope ;" " welcome to the brave Condottiere ;" 
somewhat startled Montesecco, who was unprepared 
for such a reception. 

Pausing for an instant, he removed the jewelled 
cap, whose lofty plumes partially shaded his face ; 
and bending low, in courtesy to the applauding 
spectators, advanced to meet Lorenzo, who had 
come forward to receive him. So great was the 



176 MELANTHE. 

beauty of the form and features of Montesecco, 
that every movement seemed to kindle fresh admi- 
ration in the bosom of the crowd, and his name, 
with that of Lorenzo, was again lauded to the skies. 
The superb appearance of the new Ambassador 
considerably heightened the enthusiasm in his 
favour ; for the eyes of a people so fond of show as 
were the citizens of Florence, delighted to dwell 
upon the splendour of his accoutrements, as well 
as upon the grace and dignity of his deportment. 
The full dress of the Roman nobles which he wore, 
was richer than that which was customary at 
Florence. It consisted of a close-fitting doublet of 
cloth of gold, the sleeves slashed with purple satin, 
and looped with jewels, which glittered also on the 
hilt of his sword, and the belt by which it was 
suspended. A short cloak of purple velvet, barred 
with gold, and trimmed with a border of the richest 
sables, was clasped upon the left shoulder with 
a star of diamonds, and completed the magnificent 
dress by which Montesecco had replaced the armour 
he usually wore. The applause having subsided, 
the new Ambassador took his place at the table, the 
Archbishop making room for him between himself 



MELANTHE. 177 

and Lorenzo, and seemingly overwhelming him by 
his attention ; while the dark brow of Luca Pitti, 
who had entered with Montesecco, grew radiant 
with delight as he marked the reception bestowed 
upon the Ambassador of the Pope. 

But, amidst this fever of enthusiasm, what words 
shall describe tlie feelings of Melanthe ? Fear and 
joy alternately predominated over the astonishment 
with which she had viewed the entry of Montesecco. 
In vain she addressed to her companions incoherent 
questions of the past. The light-hearted Italians 
thought only of the present hour, and all she could 
learn was, that the quarrel between Rome and 
Florence had been adjusted ; and that Montesecco, 
who had for some time commanded the armies of 
the Pope, had been named as his Ambassador, and 
had that very day arrived, although he had been 
expected in Florence for some time past. This 
information, though somewhat vague, told of many 
events which must have occurred during the seclu- 
si on from the world which the adventures of Me- 
lanthe had entailed upon her: but satisfied with 
the result, since it appeared to have almost mira- 
culously effected her wishes, she forbore to inquire 
I 5 



178 MELANTHE. 

further, and gave herself up to the delight engen- 
dered by the consciousness of once more finding 
herself in the presence of him she loved. The 
happiness of gazing upon him prevented her at 
first from remarking the changed expression of his 
countenance ; but soon she observed with pain that 
the gentle smile which was wont to play upon his 
lips came not there ; sorrow and bitterness sat upon 
his brow, and gave a look of care to a face that 
before was radiant with youth and hope. The 
sadness of his air filled the heart of Melanthe with 
still deeper love. Perhaps he was thinking of her, 
and remembering her own sorrow, and the torture 
of suspense she had suffered from his long silence, 
slie wept unrestrainedly over the grief to which 
her gentle heart ascribed the alteration of his 
appearance. Such tears are, indeed, sweet, when 
we know that care is ended ; and the overburthened 
heart of Melanthe relieved by them, soon rose from 
the state of despondency into which her many trials 
had plunged her. Filled with confidence by the 
arrival of Montesecco, she now rejoiced that Lo- 
renzo was still ignorant of her being at Florence, 
and resolved to present herself to his eye only under 



MELANTHE. 179 

the care of her affianced husband. A day of hope 
was breaking. She thought of her poor father — of 
the faithful and affectionate Hassan — of Gennaro — 
and the happy re-union which the love of Mon- 
tesecco and the power of Lorenzo would effect — 
and a fervent though silent prayer ascended to 
Heaven, for her heart was too full of joy ! 



CHAPTER XVI. 

But Montesecco saw her not; and if, at that 
moment, the image of Melanthe crossed his mind, 
it was only as an incentive to the dark and bitter 
passions raging in his breast. Completely deceived 
by the machinations of Luca Pitti, Montesecco had 
yielded himself up as an instrument in the hands 
of the conspirators, and from having once been 
deaf to their entreaties, was now become the most 
zealous and blood-thirsty of the band. Little did 
those imagine, who gazed upon the noble form and 
features of the young ambassador, that beneath the 
jewels sparkling on his breast, the dagger of the 
assassin lay concealed ; and little did they dream 
that clustering round the board at which sat their 
intended victim, calm and unsuspicious, were those 
whose sacred oath had bound them to do a deed, 
which would transmit their names branded with 
infamy to posterity. Dark was the age when such 



MELANTUE. 181 

a scheme was nurtured and contrived, — when the 
dignitaries of the Church, and the nobles of the 
land, could league together like a band of lawless 
ruffians, and enter the peaceful hall of an unsus- 
pecting man, with an oath upon their lips that 
either he or they should not go forth alive. 

Yet so it was. After deep and mature delibera- 
tion, the hour of the banquet had been chosen by 
the conspirators, for the murder of Lorenzo and 
Giuliano ; and the arrival of Montesecco had been 
purposely delayed by the artifices of Luca Pitti, 
who trembled lest the noble nature of the young 
man should rise superior to the hatred with which, 
impressed with the belief of the guilt of Melanthe, 
his heart now burned against Lorenzo. It was a 
daring resolve, thus, in the very hour of mirth, 
when the hearts of the gratified crowd warmed 
afresh towards their generous and courteous host, 
to slay him in their sight ; but the fickle nature of 
the people was well known to the conspirators. 
The only scions of the house of the Medici once 
cut off\, the multitude would rally round the existing 
power. The authority of the Pope would sanction 
the deed, and numbers would flock to his banner, 



182 MELANTHE. 

whom fear and weakness had hitherto deterred from 
declaring their hostility to Lorenzo. The risk 
might be great, but the result was certain ; and so 
numerous was the body of conspirators, that delay 
promised more danger than the attempt. 

And Montesecco, the noble and the brave, was 
the man selected for so vile a deed. In the blood 
of Lorenzo, the stain on the honour of Melanthe 
must be washed out ; and Montesecco, as he sat 
beside his victim, had need of this dreadful thought, 
or he had failed in his murderous intent. The 
manner of Lorenzo was so winning, that it was 
difficult to resist its influence ; added to which, and, 
as it were in spite of his own resolution, the heart 
of Montesecco was touched. 

It is impossible to look upon one, however guilty 
he may be, whose hours on earth are numbered, 
without a degree of interest, which is full of a 
strange fascination. To watch the gradual ebb of 
life, even when the attenuated form and lustreless 
eye tell of a long preparation for the coming hour, 
is sufficiently painful ; but to behold face to face, 
a fellow creature, full of life, and health, and 
intellect, and to know that ere a few moments have 



MELANTHE. 183 

passed, the soul that is within will stand before its 
Creator, and the inanimate clay lie helpless at our 
feet, is a sensation so terrible, and full of awe, that 
even when upheld by law, reason quails beneath 
it, as it questions the right of man to do a deed 
thus fearful ! But when this deed is voluntary 
and premeditated, — when hatred, not justice, points 
the steel, and jealous ambition nerves the arm to do 
the hangman's work, then, if there be still a human 
feeling in his heart, must the breast of the murderer, 
glaring on his victim even as a tiger crouches ere 
he springs, throb with all the pangs of terror and 
conscious guilt ! 

Writhing with these feelings, Montesecco sat 
by the side of Lorenzo; still, though the dread 
shadow of the vengeance of God fell upon him, 
human passion and human sin did their deadly 
work, and wrapped him in their folds. His resolu- 
tion did not waver— one thought was in his mind, one 
vision before his eyes. Melanthe false — Melanthe 
degraded — wandering homeless on the earth, — his 
own Melanthe, before whom he had poured out his 
souFs worship. Her betrayer was at his side ; and 
Montesecco, steeling his heart to all emotion, grasped 



184 MELANTHE. 

the dagger concealed in his robe, and kept his eye 
fixedly upon Luca Pitti. 

The appointed signal was to be the rising of 
Luca Pitti to give the health of Lorenzo. Then 
would Montesecco plunge the steel into the 
heart of his unsuspecting host, while Francesco 
de"* Pazzi would stab Giuliano, whose seat was 
on the opposite side of the hall ; and the Arch- 
bishop was immediately to declare the Medici 
tyrants, and proclaim the citizens of Florence free 
to choose any form of government most pleasing to 
them. In case of resistance, messengers were in 
readiness to be dispatched to the troops which had 
been purposely posted on the frontier of the Flo- 
rentine territory. All was prepared, and many an 
anxious glance was directed towards the spot where 
Luca Pitti sat : but he did not move ; and it was 
observed that he frequently turned towards the 
door, as if in expectation of an arrival. The hall 
was so crowded that it was impossible for Monte- 
secco, without quitting his place, to distinguish the 
occupants of the other tables ; but the evening was 
advancing, and still the signal was not given. 
Montesecco began to grow alarmed, lest some acci- 



MELANTHE. 185 

dent should betray their secret, when a low voice, 
close to his ear, exclaimed, 

" All is lost, — Giuliano will not come !'' 
Montesecco slightly turned his head, and the 
scowling brow of Francesco de' Pazzi was just 
discernible under the hood of the Pilgrim, which 
was the disguise he had adopted. The plan had 
thus unexpectedly failed ; since to murder Lorenzo 
without his brother would in no way have advanced 
the designs of the conspirators. All hope for the 
time was at an end. With a beating heart, Mon- 
tesecco watched the russet gown of the pretended 
pilgrim, till he saw it reach the side of Luca Pitti, 
who immediately rose and quitted the hall ; and 
then Montesecco, not daring to trust himself 
another moment by the side of Lorenzo, arose also, 
and sought the open air. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

As the gorgeous sunlight mellows at eve, so, as 
the festival advanced, had the fever of hilarity 
and excitement subsided into a calmer spirit and a 
more gentle joy. The dance and the song went 
on, and large awnings were spread for those who 
chose to join in the amusement without remaining 
in the open air. The most beautiful parts of the 
garden were brilliantly illuminated, lamps of every 
device and colour, representing a variety of the 
brightest fruit and flowers, being suspended from 
the branches of the trees, and carried by wire- work 
above the fountains and streams. 

Bitter to the chilled and guilty heart were these 
signs of rejoicing. Montesecco, on quitting the 
house, passed swiftly on through the sparkling 
scene, and sought the shelter of a high grove of 
oak, which promised a moment of retirement from 
the crowd. The path he had selected led to a terrace 



MELANTHE. 187 

on the border of the broad stream, which was so 
completely screened by the thick foliage of the trees, 
that the glare of the lamps did not mingle with the 
flood of silver light in which the spot was bathed. 
Montesecco paused as he reached the bank, and 
looked around. The water rippled by at his feet, 
again and again softly kissing the bright ray playing 
on its breast, as though it loved to linger in its 
embrace. There was peace upon the earth, and 
breathing through the still air came the sound of the 
distant music, even as a happy sigh redolent of joy 
and love. Montesecco lifted his eyes to Heaven, and 
beholding its calm majesty, and the gleam of the 
many stars, like the glance of angels' eyes smiling 
gently down, he turned mournfully from a scene, 
the peace of which was too strongly contrasted with 
the tempest now raging in his own breast. 

The nature of Montesecco was changed. Irri- 
tated to madness by the sorrow of which the sup- 
posed delinquency of Melanthe was the cause, he 
was as if under a spell. Driven onwards by its 
power, he had bound himself to do a deed his soul 
abhorred; and although in the age in which he 
lived, many a less crime than that with which, in 



188 MELANTHE. 

his eyes, Lorenzo stood charged, was daily atoned 
for with life, yet the honest heart of Montesecco 
called such a vengeance by its true name of mur- 
der ! Dire must have been the hatred, and wild 
the rage, that could have warped the uprightness 
of his nature ; but goaded by distress of mind, he 
had rushed blindly on, as though to end his life 
and misery with one stroke. 

The failure of the conspiracy had worked a fear- 
ful change within his breast. By the sudden 
alteration of the plans of the conspirators, the ten- 
sion of his feelings had been relaxed, and his ideas 
thrown into confusion. But in the midst of all, a 
sensation was uppermost like that of a criminal 
just reprieved. His hand was yet unstained by 
blood ; and secretly his heart blessed Heaven that 
it was so ; and, as he paced up and down that lonely 
walk, apart from the crowd, and removed from the 
influence of human passions, and looked upon the 
tranquil scene and the glorious firmament, he seemed 
to awake suddenly from the delirium of anger and 
pride, and to stand alone with his God. His oath 
to the conspirators, which his eyes had beheld re- 
gistered upon the scroll containing their names. 



MELANTHE. 189 

appeared displayed before him : — but above it, the 
words, " Thou shalt do no murder !" in letters of 
fire, seemed to scorch his brain ; and horror of his 
intended crime took possession of his soul. 

Long and deeply did he ponder upon his state. 
Snatched, as it were, by the hand of God, from the 
precipice down which he was about to plunge, 
should he again rush to its fearful verge ? His head 
grew giddy with such thoughts; and throwing 
himself upon a seat, he endeavoured to chase the 
gloomy images from his soul. By degrees, he be- 
came more calm. The stillness of the hour, the 
beauty of the scene, lent their aid to dissolve the 
iron spell that bound him, and his thoughts gra- 
dually softened. But, perhaps, this state, if more 
in accordance with his better nature, was yet more 
difficult of endurance. It is so impossible, especially 
to the young, to look calmly forward to life as a blank 
and dreary void, and what now had Montesecco to 
cheer him on his path ? His beacon star had set, and 
for ever ! Melanthe lost, what was to him fortune or 
fame ? The secret of his birth — a secret which, had 
the fate of another been entwined with his own, he 
would have devised some means of forcing Luca 



190 MELANTHE. 

Pitti to reveal, was now valueless. The poetry of 
life was gone. His nature, fervent and devoted, 
could know no other love. Melanthe was false, 
and he was desolate for ever ! And with the name 
of one so deeply loved, came bitter thoughts — 
thoughts of past days, when, bright and beautiful, 
she had shone upon his sight, even as the sun 
gladdens the face of Nature — when, from her lips, 
words pure as an infant's thoughts had blessed his 
ear. Pure, holy, and true, was Melanthe when he 
had left her. Alas ! what had wrought this fearful 
change in one so lofty of purpose and firm of soul ? 
Grief, bitter grief, filled the heart of Montesecco, 
as he thought on the fall and the future fate 
of the being he had so tenderly loved. As he 
raised his head, there were tears upon his cheek — 
tears wrung from the soldier's heart by the false- 
hood of that in which he trusted ;• and the wretched 
man buried his face in his hands, as though to 
stifle the sob which burst from his bosom. 

" Montesecco I" said a low voice close to his 
side. He started; but the veiled and shrouded 
figure that met his eye revealed nothing of the 
form of the speaker. 



MELANTHE. IQl 

" Oh ! why do you weep ? speak to me," said 
the voice which now trembled, and had lost its 
tone. 

" Who are you ?" asked Montesecco, shudder- 
ing as a gentle hand was laid upon his arm. 

" Cruel !" replied the stranger, " you do not 

know me — I should have known you even " 

" Heavens ! ^ interrupted Montesecco, " that 

voice — it cannot be " 

" It is — it is — your own Melanthe !" she cried, 
as, throwing off her hood and mask, she rushed to 
the arms of Montesecco. 

" Melanthe ! O God ! away ! do not touch me,'^ 
he exclaimed almost with a shriek, as he started 
from her. 

" Away ? Montesecco — dearest — what can you 
mean ?'''' said Melanthe, as she,stood with outstretched 
arms before him. 

" Leave me," said Montesecco hoarsely ! " we 
I must never meet again :"" and he turned as if to 
' depart. 

I " Not meet again," said Melanthe, springing 

I towards him and endeavouring to take his hand ; 

" oh, this is some jest — though a cruel one. You 



192 MELANTHE. 

know not how I have sought you — watched for 
you. Montesecco, speak — speak to me !"" 

" I cannot — ^base, perjured as you are !"*' 

Melanthe sunk upon her knees before him. 

" Go. " resumed Montesecco contemptuously, 
" go kneel before him, who has made you what 
you are ; — kneel, and weep, and pray, that with 
his gold and with his power, he may yet make you 
a name better than that I would have given."" 

" How ?"" said Melanthe, passing her hand over 
her brow. 

" These words "*"* 

" Must I speak more clearly ?" interrupted 
Montesecco, with difficulty controlling the rage 
and grief which swelled his heart. " Lorenzo is 
powerful, and rich beyond belief. He will 
not marry one who is degraded in his eyes. The 
state would interpose. You must quit Florence ; 
let Lorenzo use his power for your sake, and save 
the name of Melanthe from the brand of public 
infamy. You are not made to bear it. Take 
these last words of counsel from one whose heart 
your falsehood has broken. Adieu !" 

" Stay," said Melanthe, as she tried to wind her 



MELANTHE. 193 

arms round him, " you are unjust — deceived — I 
am innocent !" 

" Ay/' said Montesecco bitterly ; " perhaps so, 
in the world's view. You have been tempted — 
deceived — and you have been false ! — false to one, 
who would have given his heart's blood for 
you." 

" No, no," shrieked the wretched girl, " I have 
loved but you." 

" Loved — perhaps so," said Montesecco, en- 
deavouring to free himself from her grasp. " Yet 
I ask no more than this," and he raised the mask 
of Melanthe from the ground. 

" Disguised — concealed ; why come you thus to 
his house? Because you dared not to meet the 
public eye. False girl, farewell ! May Heaven 
forgive your crime !" and Montesecco, forcibly dis- 
engaging her twining fingers from his cloak, rushed 
from the spot, and was soon lost to sight. 

Melanthe rose from the ground, straining her 
arms upon her breast. " False !" she repeated in 
a low hoarse tone, " false — and to him !" As 
she spoke, the sense of her desolate position over- 
came her : sinking on her knees, she raised her 

VOL. III. K 



194? MELANTHE. 

clasped hands to Heaven — her constant trust — her 
only hope — and she tried to pray : but the words 
died upon her lips ; for, as she looked upon the 
glorious sky, it darkened, and she saw a veil of black 
come slowly down, and another — and another 
followed; and all the glistening stars fell round 
about like ink spots on the ground, joining and 
swelling, till a sea of black rose circling to her feet, 
and from the heart of that deep death-like gloom 
the sobbing night-wind came, playing with sickly 
moan and icy breath upon her shivering frame — 
colder — and colder — till she felt no more. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

" Hark ! the trumpet sounds ; and see, the 
Legate and the Archbishop are leaving the palace ! 
By heaven, not a word of welcome is vouchsafed to 
them by the rabble that crowd the square; and 
yet did one of the accursed Medici appear, hun- 
dreds of caps would fly into the air, while it rung 
with the accustomed clamour. I am weary of 
this." 

These words were uttered, in a bitter tone, by 
Francesco de' Pazzi, who, under pretence of 
visiting his kinsman, Guglielmo, had been for some 
days resident in Florence ; and, from the windows 
of the palace, watched, with a jealous eye, the 
movements of the populace lingering in the city, 
only long enough to see the departure of the 
gallant train, which was to accompany Lorenzo 
and his guests to the arena without the walls. 



196 MELANTHE. 

where the combat of wild beasts was that day to 
take place. 

At the exclamation of Francesco, Guglielmo 
de Pazzi approached the window. That instant 
a simultaneous shout burst from all parts of the 
square. Mounted on a noble steed, a horseman 
rapidly advanced to meet the Cardinal and the 
Archbishop ; and the cries of " Palle ! palle ! viva 
l^orenzo ! " grew yet louder, as their young 
favourite, taking off his cap, bowed his thanks 
graciously to the people. In a few moments the 
square was deserted ; but the joyous cries of the 
mob were still heard, as it followed the steps of the 
horsemen. 

The check of Francesco reddened as he beheld 
this fresh proof of the public affection with which 
the object of his hatred was regarded ; and Gu- 
glielmo, who, although a conspirator, could not 
forget that, as the husband of Bianca de*' Medici, 
a portion of the popularity of his brother-in-law 
extended to himself, took occasion to observe, 

" Do you think they will shout so for us, 
Francesco, when their present idol is laid low ?"** 

" Louder still, if we begin by ministering to 



MELANTHE. 197 

their pleasures,"'' replied Francesco ; " they are 
fickle as the wind." 

" Yet," observed Guglielmo, doggedly, " my 
opinion is that our scheme will be marred in the 
execution. I never can believe that the hour of a 
festival is propitious to our plans. Why select the 
time when the people, full of mirth, and excited by 
wine, will the more fiercely resent an attack upon 
those who have provided for their amusement ?"' 

" Because the very hour of excitement is that 
in which a populace is the most easily led. Only 
give an impetus to their fury, they care little on 
which side they fight." 

" Ah ! that is Luca Pitti's doctrine ; but I am 
not so fully persuaded of its truth. After all, the 
absence of Giuliano from the masque at Fiesole had 
something ominous in it — it was the first time that 
I ever remember his absenting himself from a 
festival ; he is as fond of gaiety and show as the 
rest of the good citizens of Florence. For my 
part, I think they have all gone mad since Lorenzo 
has been in power. Do you not think it is rather 
a pity to disturb their pleasures ?" 

" How ?" said Francesco, sharply, not liking the 



198 MELANTHE. 

half-earnest tone in which these words were uttered 
by Guglielmo. " Would you retract ?"" 

" No," said Guglielmo, firmly; "whatever I 
may think, I will not retract. I have sworn to 
stand or fall with those of my own blood — but 
Bianca " 

" Will forget a brother, when she shares the 
good fortune of a husband," replied Francesco. 
" And if she should not," he added, sternly, " are 
individual considerations to stand in the way of 
the interests of a family like our's ? Are tyrants to 
flourish, because a woman weeps ? and the noblest 
in the land to live in exile at the bidding of two 
beardless boys, for they are scarce more, who tread 
upon our necks, as though we were their vassals or 
their slaves ?''' 

" True," replied Guglielmo, " the number of 
the exiled nobles increases every day. It is time 
to put a check upon the overgrown power that will 
otherwise annihilate us all." 

" It must be done, and speedily," said Fran- 
cesco; "but now let us follow to the show— our 
absence might be remarked. To-night, Lorenzo 
sups in private with Jacopo and the fair Clarice 



MELAiJTHE. 199 

Orsini, who have arrived from Rome. The day 
of the marriage will then be fixed. Little dreams 
the gentle bride that the name of the Medici 
will perish from the earth ere it can become 
her own."" 

The triumphant tone in which Francesco uttered 
these words, while they instilled confidence, yet made 
the heart of Guglielmo sicken, as he thought of the 
misery about to fall on so many innocent persons. 

" We meet to-night,'' he said to Francesco, as 
they were about to leave the apartment. 

" To-night, at Montughi,'' replied Francesco. 
" The hour will then finally be fixed ; and woe to 
him who is found wanting when it arrives!" So 
saying, they separated; and each mounting his 
horse proceeded alone towards the scene of the 
amusement of the day, which they were to leave 
early, in order to debate afresh the most fitting 
moment for the accomplishment of their murderous 
deed. 

Within three days after the masque at Fiesole 
the people of Florence were delighted by a spec- 
tacle, which, even in that intellectual age, still 
possessed an unaccountable charm in their eyes. 



200 MELANTHE. 

The combats of wild beasts, after the manner of 
the ancients, were a favourite pastime, although 
the progress of civilization had put an end to the 
most appalling part of the spectacle — the sacrifice 
of human life. 

A large space, at the distance of a mile from 
the city, had been enclosed for the purpose. In 
the midst were trees, which had been partially 
stripped of their branches ; and the dens of the 
animals were placed at intervals round the arena, 
and concealed from view by hangings and curtains 
which fell from the gallery above, containing rows 
of seats elevated one above the other, and protected 
by an awning from the heat of the sun. The 
expense of these entertainments was enormous ; 
and so great the demand at that time for wild 
beasts, that each was bought at a price many 
times higher than it would have produced at a later 
day. This, when the great number that were 
sacrificed at each exhibition is considered, will 
account for the immense outlay required ; and 
never did the popularity of Lorenzo rise to such 
a height with all classes of persons, as when, at 
his own expense, he revived these ancient combats. 



MELANTHE. 201 

The present exhibition had been judiciously 
appointed to take place immediately after the 
masque at Fiesole, in order that the poorer people 
should also have their share in the rejoicings, in 
honour of the renewal of the friendship of the 
Pope with the republic of Florence ; for it was 
ever a part of the wise policy of Lorenzo to com- 
bine the interest of the state with the individual 
gratification of its citizens. Thousands of persons 
flocked to the arena ; and it was v/hispered in the 
crowd, that, besides the ordinary exhibitions, 
something hitherto unknown was about to be dis- 
played for their amusement. This did not, however, 
diminish the eagerness with which they watched 
the first onset between the furious animals, who, 
the better to excite their rage, had been kept 
for a considerable time without food. 

At every fresh victory obtained by tlie enraged 
beasts over each other, the shouts of the people 
filled the air ; and the animals, still more excited 
by the noise, added the most frightful roars to the 
fury with which they attacked their enemy. When 
any of them, either from cowardice or injury, 
refused to fight, he was instantly withdrawn to his 
K 5 



202 MELANTHE. 

den by means of a net, which, running on a rope 
extending across the arena, could be dropped at 
pleasure, and was secured by a spring. By these 
means, only the more savage beasts remained ; 
and such was the carnage, that, before the conclu- 
sion of the show, above twenty lions and tigers 
lay dead within the arena, besides panthers, leopards, 
hyenas, and a variety of lesser animals, which had 
played their part in this bloody spectacle, to the 
delight of the assembled multitude. 

The fight had been prolonged for several hours ; 
but the day was drawing to a close, when the 
gates of the arena were opened, and a number of 
keepers with their attendants having entered the 
enclosure, the ground was soon cleared of the 
carcases with which it was covered. For a few 
minutes nothing more appeared, when the hang- 
ings on one side of the gallery were observed to 
move. All eyes were turned towards the spot. The 
curtains were slowly withdrawn, and four stately 
cameleopards walked quietly forth into the midst 
of the arena. The voice of thousands was hushed 
in a moment, for surprise had struck every one 
dumb. 



Ml!!LANTHE. 208 

It was the first time the cameleopard bad ever 
been seen in Europe ; and although, from the 
recitals of travellers, the existence of such an 
animal might have been supposed to have been 
ascertained, yet it is a recorded fact, that, until the 
moment of its production at Florence by Lorenzo 
de' Medici, to whom it had been sent as a present 
by the Soldan of Egypt, the cameleopard had been 
always regarded by Europeans as a fabulous 
creation. After the savage nature of the previous 
scene, the gentleness of these beautiful animals 
was a subject of no less delight to the assembled 
multitude, than was their novel and striking ap- 
pearance. The people seemed as if they could 
never tire watching the stately and peaceful move- 
ments of the gigantic animals, who, apparently 
undismayed by the surrounding crowd, cropped 
the leaves of the trees, and lifted their beautiful 
heads over the barriers, as if to take a nearer view 
of those for whose amusement they had been 
brought from their native land. But the silence 
was soon broken by exclamations of delight and 
wonder, and again the name of the jMedici was 
heard around. 



204 MELANTHE. 

" It is for the last time,'"* muttered Luca Pitti, 
as he turned his horse, to depart on his road to 
join the conspirators at Montughi. As he rode 
through the now deserted streets of the city, his 
own half- finished palace was the spot upon which 
his fierce looks rested, and he ground his teeth as 
he passed the walls. At the gate of the villa of 
Jacopo de' Pazzi, at Montughi, he overtook 
Francesco and Guglielmo, who were going to the 
meeting. 

" What news ?" exclaimed Francesco, as he reined 
up his horse beside that of Luca Pitti. 

" Heaven smiles upon us,"" replied the latter. 
" The Cardinal has requested that on Sunday high 
mass may be celebrated in the church of the 
Reparata. Lorenzo has consented. He and Giuliano 
will attend. This is Friday — one day more, and 
we are free !'" • 



CHAPTER XIX. 

It was Sunday. Five days had elapsed, and 
Melanthe had not quitted the room to which she 
had been conveyed by the persons who had accom- 
panied her to Fiesole; and who, after a long 
search, had found her, apparently lifeless, lying on 
the terrace where her interview with Montesecco 
had taken place. It was not without terror that 
the good Caterina beheld the pitiable state in which 
Melanthe was brought back to her house : but all 
that care and kindness could effect was speedily 
done for the young stranger ; and when, at length, 
she was restored to consciousness, a few words 
sufficed to induce the kind-hearted Italians to be- 
lieve that over-fatigue was alone the cause of the 
indisposition which had so much alarmed them. 

But there was one near, who was not so easily 
deceived. Gennaro, whose own unhappy love had 
taught him those deep hidden secrets of the heart, 



206 MELANTHE. 

unfathomable to a spirit at ease, knew that neither 
illness nor fatigue could have thus prostrated the 
mental powers of Melanthe. Deeply now did he 
regret not having accompanied her to the masque. 
An undefined presentiment of sorrow had been the 
cause of his refusal to do so. Although ignorant 
of the arrival of Montesecco at Florence, Gennaro 
had frequently imagined the possibility of such an 
event ; and his heart was ever oppressed by a fear 
of meeting the man to whom he knew the affections 
of Melanthe were devoted. He did not hate Mon- 
tesecco — the love of Melanthe rendered him sacred ; 
but Gennaro trembled in his presence. He trembled 
as though he imagined his rival to be in possession 
of some supernatural power ; for to one writhing 
under the agony of unrequited love, it does seem, 
even in defiance of reason, as though the unbounded 
influence exercised over the object of their affection 
by another, must have been attained by some 
superhuman means. To a young and sanguine 
spirit, it is difficult to believe that love cannot 
beget love, so hard is it to understand that no 
devotion, no sacrifice of self, can turn the unwilling 
heart ; and to feel that when every affection, and 



MELANTHE. 207 

every faculty has been strained to the utmost, it 
scarcely excites a sentiment of cold gratitude. 

It is not, therefore, surprising that Gennaro, 
who was naturally superstitious, and whose mute 
sorrow rendered him doubly sensitive to impres- 
sions once formed, at length arrived at the conclu- 
sion that Montesecco possessed some peculiar gift 
from Heaven, which rendered him all powerful. 
Hitherto, Gennaro had forborne to allude to the 
past when in conversation with Melanthe ; for con- 
versation was, without difficulty, carried on between 
them, sometimes by signs, at others by writing, 
and for this purpose he always carried tablets of 
ivory. The same feeling of delicacy which had 
prevented him from speaking of Montesecco, had 
taught Gennaro to bury his own hopes within his 
bosom. He felt that Melanthe did not love him — 
that she considered him as a child ; and although 
his young heart beat with all the noblest emotions 
of man, he preferred, in the gentleness of his nature, 
to remain in her eyes as she chose to regard him, 
rather than inflict upon her the pain which he had 
once seen that his professions of affection had caused. 
The steadiness with which Gennaro had followed 



S08 MELANTHE. 

up this determination had worked its own reward ; 
for, during their journey, they had seemed to be 
almost the friends of former days, and Melanthe 
had once again turned upon him her old sweet smile. 
And his heart had been comforted. Alas ! was 
this also to vanish so soon ? 

From the moment when Gennaro had seen the 
inanimate form of Melanthe borne back to the 
chamber which she had quitted but a short time 
previously in spirits and in health, it seemed as 
though death had laid its icy fingers upon his 
heart. Day and night, he sat by the couch on 
which she lay, bathing with his tears the hand she 
unconsciously abandoned to him ; but no commu- 
nication upon the subject of her sorrow passed 
between them. 

At length, Melanthe appeared partially to re- 
cover. She arose, and by degrees her thoughts 
became more collected. Still she did not speak, 
though now and then she turned a look upon 
Gennaro, who sat at her feet, as though she would 
have said something ; but the effort was too greats 
It was evident that she could not tell the cause of 
her distress ; and Gennaro, who, more than once, 



MELANTHE. 209 

had traced upon the tablet the question he longed 

to ask, restored the ivory to his bosom, as he gazed 

upon the wan cheek and fixed eyes of her he so 

much loved, and whose faculties appeared frozen 

by some secret pain. He could not add to her 

sorrow, and he bore on in silence, although his 

heart was breaking. And thus, for many days, 

I these two young creatures sat side by side, looking 

(on each other's grief — soul watching soul, as its 

! frail tenement seemed fading from the earth ; and 

yet neither knew to the full extent the sorrow of 

the other. 

This could not last. Death or madness must 
( ensue, if an effort were not made, and the stronger 
mind was the first to awake from the stupor of 
distress. Melanthe looked upon the cheek of 
Gennaro. It was hollow, and his colourless lips 
were thin and pinched. Was it for her that he 
thus grieved ? She laid her hand gently upon his 
shoulder. He started, and looked up, and joy, 
like the flash of a sunbeam, played across his pallid 
face as he marked the look of kindness w^hich 
Melanthe turned upon him. She made him a sign 
to give her the tablets ; and taking them hastily 



210 MELAKTHE. 

from his hand, she read the words which he had 
traced, but had not shown to her. One line con- 
tained a prayer that she would confide to him the 
secret of her grief. " To-morrow, you shall know 
all !" was the answer she wrote ; and Gennaro threw 
himself upon his knees before her, and passionately 
kissed her hands. Melanthe, with a faint sad smile, 
pointed to the door, and, satisfied that she was now 
recovering, Gennaro instantly withdrew. 

Then Melanthe knelt down, and prayed; and 
she arose comforted ! She did not weep. It was 
the hour for endurance, not for tears ; and all 
that night she sat alone, communing with herself. 
She looked back upon her past life; and satisfied that 
she could not recall to mind one act of voluntary 
sin, she turned courageously to the future ; for she 
felt that she still had serious duties to perform, ere 
she might yield up her heart to the misery which 
preyed upon it. 

Deprived of the protection, upon which, through 
her many trials, she had so trustingly relied, her 
position had become more difficult than ever. 
Abandoned by Montesecco, she felt abandoned by 
the whole world. She turned her eyes to Rome ; 



MELANTHE. 211 

but the image of the Cardinal Borgia rose before 
her ; and she trembled, and shrunk, as though in 
his hated presence, whilst the words he had uttered 
in his rage recurred to her mind, — " Montesecco 
shall spurn thee while kneeling at his feet P She 
had knelt at his feet, and he had spurned her ! The 
recollection nearly overwhelmed the fortitude of the 
unhappy girl; but soon the loftiness which was 
inherent in her nature, came to her support. Mon- 
tesecco had scorned her professions of innocence. 
Should she humble herself before one who had 
doubted her honour, and refused to give credence 
to her word ? Could she stoop to receive as a 
boon, that which she regarded as a right ? It must 
not be. Secure in her conscious integrity, and 
pureness of faith, she would meet him on equal 
terms, or relinquish him for ever ; and, as she 
dwelt upon these thoughts, again the spirit of pride 
arose to chase away the shadow of her grief. But 
it was pride of her lover, not of herself. He 
thought her guilty, and he renounced her. His 
high sense of honour forbade all other course ; and 
Melanthe, in the unflinching nobleness of her soul, 
admired and approved even while her woman's 



S12 MELANTHE. 

heart quailed beneath the blow. It was cleat* that 
Montesecco had been deceived ; and her mind re- 
verted to the Cardinal, who was the only enemy 
of whose existence she was aware. She knew the 
consummate artifice of Borgia, and felt that ap- 
pearances might be made to justify his accusation ; 
and should Montesecco have been by them con- 
vinced of her unworthiness, and yet preserved his 
love, she would then have spurned, for she would 
have despised him. The sincerity of these sentiments 
strengthened the courao^e with whicn IMelanthe 
endeavoured to meet the difficulties of her position ; 
still there were moments when feelings of tender- 
ness warred against the spirit of endurance, and 
the strife was bitter : but she struggled on, placing, 
as it were, her sorrow under the safeguard of con- 
scious rectitude, and during the many hours of that 
sleepless night, she endeavoured to bring her senses 
under the control necessary to instant decision. 

After mature deliberation, the plan which had at 
first occurred to her was that which she resolved to 
adopt — she would throw herself upon the mercy of 
him, who had so unhesitatingly condemned her, 
Jacopo Orsini, who, on the first whisper against 



MELANTHE. 213 

her, had expelled her from his house, was the 
person to whom she would address her prayer. 
He was the father of her early friend Clarice, and 
to his paternal feelings she would appeal for pro- 
tection. She determined to write to him a full 
statement of all that she had suffered, and entreat 
his interference on behalf of her poor father, upon 
whose prolonged agony she ever thought in 
trembling. 

This letter, with others for Hassan and her 
father, she resolved to entrust to Gennaro, to whom 
she was about to reveal all that she had hitherto 
kept secret from him ; and having provided him 
with proper attendants, the means of doing which, 
from the jewels she wore, were in her power, she 
would send him to Rome ; and retiring into one of 
the many Florentine convents, the doors of which 
were always open to strangers, she would aw^ait, 
under the protection of the abbess, intelligence of 
the result of his mission. 

It might so happen that before that time Vanozia 
would have found the means of fulfilling her pro- 
mise ; a promise which she had made with such con- 
fidence of success, that Melanthe still trusted in its 



214 MELANTHE. 

accomplishment. The more simple course would 
have been at once to inform Lorenzo of all that had 
happened ; yet from this the nature of Melanthe 
shrunk with invincible repugnance ; and she re- 
solved that nothing but the failure of every other 
support should induce her to make known her 
sorrows to the man who had been so unintentionally 
the cause of them. 

Relieved by the decision she had formed, the 
mind of Melanthe grew more calm. She threw 
herself upon her couch, in the hope of obtaining 
repose ; but sleep, like love, is a wayward spirit, 
ever absent when most invoked. After some time, 
Melanthe again arose. Feverish and unrefreshed, 
she approached the window, and threw it open. 
The prospect before her was very limited. The 
house of Caterina was in the suburb of the city. 
Beyond the narrow street, was the little garden she 
loved and tended with the care of one who has 
nought else left to love. It was merely a small 
square piece of ground, hemmed in on two sides 
by the high walls of a neighbouring convent, while 
the third was completely shadowed by the project- 
ing roof of a large silk manufactory. A stunted 



MELANTHE. 215 

palm, a few mulberry trees, and myrtle bushes, 
constituted the chief verdure of the garden of 
poor Caterina ; but there were roses, and the beau- 
tiful flowering cistus forcing their way in wild 
luxuriance among straggling clusters of jessamine 
and honeysuckle ; and, as Melanthe leaned from 
the window, the air was heavy with the fragrance 
of the flowers. There was something of sadness 
in their blooming thus alone in that secluded spot, 
clinging in helpless loveliness and with feeble grasp 
to those high frowning walls, that seemed to shut 
them out from kindred gladness in the sunny 
fields ; and Melanthe, as she looked at their beau- 
tiful heads, drooping with the heavy dew of the 
spring morning, felt a sensation of pity arise in her 
breast. 

The tears of these bright things were as a type 
of her own sorrow ; and with a sigh she turned 
from the window, and sitting down at a table, upon 
which she had prepared her materials for writing, 
she began the letters, of which Gennaro was to be 
the bearer to Rome. She had not been long 
thus employed, when a sound beneath the window 
startled her. It was a sound of knocking, and the 



216 MELANTHE. 

hurried whisperings of voices reached her — then 
all was still. In a few moments, a heavy step was 
heard upon the stairs— nearer and nearer it came, 
then paused — the door of her room opened, and, 
wrapped in the large dark cloak worn by horsemen 
of that period, Montesecco stood before her. The 
astonishment of Melanthe gave way before the 
terror with which she gazed upon his altered ap- 
pearance. Years seemed to have been added to his 
age, since she had last beheld him. His tall form 
was bent, his step uncertain, and the deadly pale- 
ness of his face betrayed the agony of mind he 
suffered. 

" Melanthe !*" he said, " I have not come to 
reproach, but to entreat your pardon. When we 
last met, my words were harsh. Can you forgive 
me ?" 

" Yes !"" said Melanthe, calmly, but in a very 
low voice. — " I do forgive j'ou !" 

" Oh ! no, you cannot," he exclaimed, wildly ; 
" you know not what I ask, or what you say — you 
cannot forgive one so deeply sunk in crime as 
I am!" 

" Crime !" echoed Melanthe, " you guilty ? — oh, 



MELAXTHE. 217 

no !'' she added, with a shudder, " I will not 
believe it, — I could not do so." 

The reproach these gentle words contained 
struck sharply to the heart of him to whom they 
were addressed ; but the past was less in his 
thoughts than the present, and the terrible future. 
Love had given way to horror and despair, and he 
clasped his hands over his eyes while he replied, 

" You must — ^you will ; it is that you may fully 
do so, that I am now here, — that I have sought you 
even while death is on my track — death above, 
around, before me, everywhere I turn, nothing but 
death ! Oh ! I could have met it on the field, 
braved it a thousand times, or bid it welcome in 
the cause of honour, or of love ; but to die a 
felon's death, a murderer ! '"' 

" Ah ! " said Melanthe, with a shriek, and 
looking wildly round, " who spoke of murder ? '"' 
And, as she pronounced the word, she shuddered 
and advanced instinctively nearer to the side of 
Montesecco. 

" I did ! "^ he replied solemnly ; " for the crime 
is mine ! " 

VOL. III. L 



218 MELANTHE. 

" Oh ! do not speak such words," said Melanthe, 
raising her eyes, in agony, to the face of her lover. 

*' Yes ! *" he replied, " I am a murderer ! The 
deed and the design are one — the sin is on my 

soul And you — would you know the cause ? 

would you know what has worked the ruin of him 
who loved you ? It is yourself ! " 

" I ! ^ exclaimed Melanthe, looking at him wit 
a bewildered air, " I the cause ! It is impossible. 
This is some madness.'^ 

" No,'' replied Montesecco, sadly, " would that 
it were — that I might even for one short hour 
forget that I am Montesecco, and that you were 
once my own Melanthe ! Oh ! I am not mad ! If 
you would know how this black intent seized upon 
my soul, turn your eyes inward — search your own 
false and changing heart ; and, having sounded 
its most treacherous depths, look back to days 
gone by, when, blessed in each other's love, each 
hour was witness to our mutual vows. I was happy 
then ! Of all the treasures that the earth contains, 
I coveted but one — that one was mine. I left it 
for a time unguarded — no, not unguarded, for the 



MELAXTHE. 219 

spirit of my own truth watched over it. All was 
vain. It was stolen — stolen as I slept secure. I 
awoke — I was a beggar on the earth — and then I 
swore that he who had done this deed should 
answer for it to me with his life ! ^ 

" Still then," said Melanthe, struggling to appear 
calm, " you believe me guilty ? "*" 

" Would to Heaven that I could doubt it ! '' 
exclaimed Montesecco, passionately. 

" 'Tis well ! " said Melanthe, as she bowed her 
head ; but the tone of her voice was so low it did 
not reach the ear of Montesecco, who continued 
rapidly, 

" From that hour, I had but one thought. I 
joined the conspiracy long since formed against the 
Medici. I joined it heart and hand, — I longed to 
glory in the act that was to avenge mv love, and 
only prayed that I might strike the blow that was 
to spill the life-blood of the hated Lorenzo ! For 
this, I came to Florence ; for this, I stooped to 
come ambassador from him, who, safe in the papal 
chair, sends forth his myrmidons of murder beneath 
the cope and stole. For this, I left the soldier's 



220 MELANTHE. 

honourable strife to act the assassin's part. The 
masque at Fiesole was to have been the hour " 

" Was ! '^ interrupted Melanthe ; " then, it is 
not too late. Lorenzo lives — oh ! tell me that yet 
he lives ! "" 

" One hour from hence I dare not say « He lives V" 
replied Montesecco, as he cast a glance upon the 
brightening day. 

" Oh fly ! save him ! save yourself ! "" cried 
Melanthe, distractedly. 

" It is too late ! "" said Montesecco. " I have 
renounced the deed. I stand before you a twofold 
traitor. Oh ! Melanthe, why did we meet at Fie- 
sole ? Had we not met, I could have struck the 
blow, and died ! But now, irresolution has de- 
stroyed me. I saw you, and I thought, Lorenzo 
dead, what then must be your fate ? I thought 
on this, and found I could not kill the man that 
loved you. Oh ! I am mad, when I think of this — 
I, who so worshipped you ! *" and Montesecco, 
covering his face with his hands, sobbed aloud. 

In the midst of grief and terror a thrill of 
rapture shot through the heart of Melanthe. 



MELANTHE. 221 

Montesecco still loved her But these thoughts 

were for the future ; for beneath the anguish of 
her lover she felt the terrible secret lay yet 
concealed. She approached him, and unheeding 
the construction he might put upon her words, her 
only thought being to save him from the guilt 
into which he had been hurried, she said, 

" There is yet time ; Lorenzo must be saved ! 
Speak — say, how it may be done," 

" It is too late. Hark ! " he exclaimed, as the 
slow peal of a church bell was heard. " The 
murderers are round him. In the church of the 
Reparata there is high mass — when the priest 
raises the host, then will Lorenzo die. Two priests 
even now make ready the dagger beneath their 
robe ; and I, who had sworn to do it, fly like a 
craven ere the hour arrives. I said / dared not in 
the house of God ; — but you, Melanthe, you were 
my God. I, pitied you ! Oh ! may all-pitying 
Heaven forgive me, I know not what I say ! "^ 

" God will forgive, if you repent,'' said Me- 
lanthe. 

" Repent,'' said Montesecco with a stupified air. 



222 MELANTHE. 

Just then, the sound of voices and the trampling 
of many feet was heard beneath the window. 

" They have murdered him," he whispered 
hoarsely ; " and now they are looking for me— a 
traitor to both sides — they seek my life ! " 

The bell tolled louder, and Melanthe sprung to 
the window : — " The people flock to the church — 

he may yet be warned Oh God, support 

me!" 

Melanthe, as she spoke, endeavoured hurriedly 
to adjust the hood and scarf of black silk, without 
which no woman of condition ever appeared in the 
street ; but her hands trembled so she could 
scarcely accomplish tyiijg the strings. " Lorenzo — 
murdered ! — oh Heavens ! " she murmured in a 
tone of anguish. 

" Poor girl ! how she loves him," said Monte- 
secco apart, as he looked compassionately upon her. 
But she saw him not — she was ready, and in 
another moment had quitted the room. Monte- 
secco watched till her steps had borne her from the 
street ; and then he listened — there was no sound. 

« The bell— the bell ! " he cried distractedly ; 



MELANTHE. 

" she cannot be near the church. Hark ! oh ! for 
one toll more to tell that yet he lives.'" All was 

silent 

" It is too late ! '"' he said, with a deep groan ; 
and, as he closed the window, he buried his head 
in the folds of his cloak, as if to shut out the 
dreadful sound which he knew must be the next. 



CHAPTER XX. 

By the side of the Arno, near the spot where the 
river first enters Florence, was a small piece of 
enclosed ground, cut off from view of the city by a 
high wall, which was shaded by a double row of 
Ilex and Cypress trees. The bank sloped gradually 
down to the water, and was so covered with flower- 
ing shrubs, that it might have seemed a garden, 
had not the gleaming of marble, and the occasional 
elevation of a crucifix or obelisk, proclaimed that 
beneath the shelter of the flowers, hearts once as 
full of life as the bright blossoms in their gay 
spring time, now mouldered in the dust ! Many a 
gentle device, and many a rose-crowned urn, told of 
the tenderness which had outlived the parting hour ; 
and garlands of fresh flowers, suspended from the 
trees, marked out the place of the nameless grave, 
with a grace of sorrow more touching and more 



MELANTHE. 225 

true than could have been conveyed by any effort 
of the sculptor's art. 

One tomb alone, of most elaborate workmanship, 
reared itself proudly so as to stand apart from the 
rest. Raised on a grassy mound, a bower of myrtle 
sheltered it from the sun ; and on the tomb and all 
around its base, the sweetest blossoms of that glow- 
ing clime lay scattered in profusion The sun 

had scarcely shone upon the earth, yet ever and 
anon a fragrant cloud was wafted on the air. But 
whose is the hand now raised to feed its flame ? A 
young man kneels before the tomb ; his long 
black curls fall downward on his cheek, as, lower 
and lower still, he bends his head, until his lips 
have rested on the slab beneath. It is Giuliano 
de' Medici. What does he there? Grief sits 
upon his brow ; and as, with clasped hands, he 
gazes on the tomb, the one word that seems to 
struggle to his sight as through the blinding tears 
he looks upon it, tells his sad tale — that word was 
" Simonetta !"" the name of her who slept below ; 
the name that but a little while before woke rapture 
in the soul of one, who with a loving ear drank in 
L 5 



MELANTHE. 

its sound ; and, from his breaking heart, the sad 
Giuliano vainly sighs — that word once more, — no 
answer comes ; the ear is closed, the lips are silent 

now ; and Giuliano kneels again, and weeps 

At this time, Giuliano de' Medici had scarcely 
reached his nineteenth year. Gifted with great 
personal beauty, and a highly accomplished mind, 
he was universally admired. Many were the bright 
glances that sought his own ; but he heeded them 
not, for his heart was with the gentle Simonetta. 
Her parents smiled upon his suit, and for a brief 
space of time he was most blest. But little recks 
the hand of death what ties it severs. A few davs' 
illness, and Simonetta was gone — snatched away in 
her beauty and her bloom, ere the haven of bliss 
was won ! The young heart of Giuliano could ill 
bear up against the load of misery which had fallen 
upon it. A few days, and the whole world was changed 
to him. His early love was in the grave ! — gone, 
with all the illusion of a youthful passion yet un- 
dimmed ; and abandoning himself to his grief, 
Giuliano had totally withdrawn from all society, 
finding no comfort, save in the daily visit he paid 



MELANTHE. ^7 

to the resting place of her he had so fondly loved ! 
Vain had been all the efforts of his friends to induce 
him once more to join in their pursuits. The 
wound was too fresh ; and Lorenzo compassionating 
a weakness with which he could so deeply sympa- 
thize, forbore for a time to insist upon the appear- 
ance of his brother in public, feigning to believe in 
the constantly urged plea of indisposition. 

The grief of Giuliano had been the cause of his 
absence from the masque at Fiesole ; and although 
it was not then publicly known, a rumour of the 
truth had subsequently reached the ears of the con- 
spirators, filling them with fear, that, should he 
persist in remaining in seclusion, their plan of a 
double murder must prove abortive. The secret of 
the conspiracy was now known to so many, that 
every hour was fraught with danger. More than 
once, symptoms of wavering had manifested them- 
selves, and it became of imperative necessity to 
determine the moment of the enterprise. Fearful 
that, should the celebration of another festival be 
selected, the same difficulty would again occur 
which had caused the failure of the attempt at 



228 MELANTHE. 

Fiesole, it was decided, that the occasion of a 
religious ceremony should be chosen ; and the 
Legate, who was completely a puppet in the hands 
of the Archbishop and of his father Girolano 
Riario, was incited to express his desire of being 
present at the celebration of high mass in the church 
of the Reparata. 

The time had now arrived ; the Legate and the 
Archbishop set out from their respective residences 
with a splendid retinue, in which were comprised the 
chief number of the conspirators. Lorenzo also had 
quitted his palace; and the murderers already smiled 
in anticipation of success, when it was ascertained 
that Giuliano had left his house early in the morn- 
ing, and did not intend being present at the mass. 

Not an instant was to be lost ; already the crowd 
was entering the church, when Francesco de' Pazzi 
summoned to his side Bernardo Bandini, one of the 
conspirators; and hurrying through the streets, 
went to the house of Giuliano. No intelligence 
could be gained of the probable direction in which 
the steps of Giuliano might have led him. His 
domestics were either really ignorant of the fact, or, 



MELANTHE. 229 

with the delicacy all feel for true sorrow, they 
refrained from exposing the grief of a master they 
loved, to the careless gaze of strangers. 

The irritation of Francesco amounted almost to 
frenzy. He strode up and down the street, looking 
in all directions, but in vain. The bell had ceased 
tolling — the service was begun, and each moment 
that went by threatened destruction and discovery ; 
for, should Lorenzo fall alone, the people would 
instantly rally round Giuliano, and not one of the 
conspirators could hope for escape. The excite- 
ment of Francesco was so strong, that he trembled 
all over ; his knees knocked together as he walked, 
and every instant he seemed as though he would 
have fallen to the ground ; when at length, after 
a little more time spent in fruitless watching, an 
exclamation from Bandini revived his courage ; 
and Giuliano appeared in sight, walking slowly 
down the street, at some distance. Making: a 
strong effort to regain his composure, Francesco, 
accompanied by Bandini, advanced to meet him, 
and, holding out his hand, exclaimed, gail}', 

" Why, dear Giuliano, one would think you 
had turned hermit, save that a holy man would 



230 MELANTHE. 

scarcely absent himself so often from his cell. We 
have been seeking you every day — but in vain." 

" I have been unwell," replied Giuliano, gently, 
" or you should not have found me thus un- 
courteous." 

" We come to pray you will honour the Legate 
and the Archbishop, by attending the mass which 
is even now being celebrated in their presence/^ 
said Bandini, in the . hope of giving his companion 
time to recover his composure. 

" Good friends, forgive me," replied Giuliano ; 
" indeed, I cannot go." 

" It will be most discourteous to your guests," 
suggested Bandini. 

" I have already sent to tell them that I am 
not well. The crowd is irksome to me," replied 
Giuliano, languidly. 

" We should not ask it," said Francesco, who 
began to despair of changing the resolution of 
Giuliano, " had not your brother entreated us to 
say it was his wish ; and that he prayed you would 
for this day lay aside your sorrow, out of respect 
to your most reverend guests." 

" Did Lorenzo say this ?" inquired Giuliano, 



MELANTHE. 231 

as a faint blush stole over his cheek at this allusion 
to his grief. 

" He did indeed ; and as it is upon so solemn 
an occasion, I would entreat you to accede to his 
request. It is many days now since you have 
appeared in public,'"* answered Francesco. 

" My brother is so kind," observed Giuliano, as 
if forgetting the presence of his visitors, " so very 
kind, he will forgive it.'' 

Francesco cast a look of despair upon Bandini ; 
and the latter, addressing Giuliano, observed, 

" You will not, surely, refuse this simple request 
of so good a brother. Lorenzo entreats you, 
through us, to attend upon him this once — he is 
urgent in his prayer." 

" So urgent," suggested Francesco, who perceived 
that Giuliano began to hesitate in his determination, 
" that there is surely some weighty reason for his 
anxiety." 

" You think so?" asked Giuliano; and Fran- 
cesco slightly winced under the calm searching 
glance Giuliano turned upon him. Was it possible 
that any suspicion of their intentions was the cause 



232 MELANTHE. 

of the reluctance of Giuliano to enter the church ? 
The alarm of Francesco, however, was not of long 
duration ; for Giuliano, totally unsuspicious of 
danger, and imagining that, as they had hinted, so 
there possibly might exist some weighty reason for 
the anxiety of Lorenzo for his presence, resolved to 
conquer the repugnance he felt, and to be present 
at the mass. 

" I am ready to attend you,*" he said to Fran- 
cesco, at the same time moving a few steps on- 
wards. 

" You have forgotten your cloak and sword,'" 
observed Francesco, after they had walked a little 
way, and that he was sure, from the melancholy 
and languid appearance of Giuliano, that he would 
not return to seek them. 

" They are useless," he replied. " The sun is 
powerful — and we go to pray, and not to fight ;" 
and as he spoke a sad smile passed over his coun- 
tenance. 

" There are those," said Bandini, " who need 
never wear a sword. To one who bears the 
glorious name of Medici, it would be peculiarly 



i 



MELANTHE. 233 

useless,'" he added, as, with much courtesy, he bent 
his head towards Giuliano. 

" Your words are too flattering," replied the 
latter ; " but it were ungrateful to the good citizens 
of Florence, did I contradict your speech. They 
love us even as we love them." 

" One need only to look around," observed 
Bandini ; " the proofs of love rise up on every 
side. Cosmo, Piero, and now your most honoured 
brother, Lorenzo, live in the hearts of the people." 

" And Giuliano," added the wily Francesco; 
" for though the youngest, not the least beloved ;" 
and, as he spoke, he leaned his arm familiarly on the 
shoulder of Giuliano, pressing as he did so his 
fingers on the loose silk frock, in order to ascertain 
whether any defensive armour was concealed beneath 
it. But his fears were soon calmed. The warm 
soft flesh in which ere long he hoped to sheath the 
murderous dagger which he wore, was all that met 
his touch ; and with revived hopes Francesco con- 
tinued to lead him forward, beguiling the time 
with gay remark and honied word, until they had 
reached the door of the church. It was crowded 



234 MEL AN THE. 

to excess ; but all gave way as Giuliano entered ; 
and a place was soon found for him on the opposite 
side from that which was occupied by Lorenzo; 
and there, meekly elevating his soul to God, Giu- 
liano, with one of his executioners on either side, 
stood like a victim ready for the sacrifice ! 



CHAPTER XXL 

It was not without much difficulty that Melanthe 
reached the church of the Reparata. More than 
once, she had mistaken the way which had been 
pointed out to her ; and the streets being at that 
hour nearly deserted, she had been obliged to 
retrace her steps in order to obtain fresh directions. 
Each delay aggravated the' excitement under which 
she suffered ; and irritated almost to madness she 
hurried on, struggling against the feeling which, 
similar to that by which the sleeper is sometimes 
oppressed, seemed to retain her steps at the 
very moment when haste was the most requisite. 
Trembling and exhausted, she at length arrived at 
the church ; but, on passing its portals, the mass 
of human beings which presented itself to her view, 
was so great, that, to find Lorenzo amongst them, 
appeared an almost hopeless attempt. 



r 



II 



J236 



MELANTHE. 



She endeavoured to advance towards the altar, 
but found it impossible. Breathless with fear, she 
paused for an instant to listen to the voice of the 
Priest ; and with a shudder recognised the words 
of the short prayer which precedes the consecra- 
tion of the Host. To cry aloud to Lorenzo to 
save himself was her first impulse; but her tongue 
clove to the roof of her mouth. One word of 
alarm might be his death warrant, for she knew 
the church was filled with his foes. She was in 
the midst of them, hemmed in on every side. Oh ! 
for one moment of power to move — to see — to 
decide on what was best to be done. Must she 
stand there mute and helpless, with the dread 
secret on her lips, and the dagger of the murderers 
pointed at the breast of their victim ? The thought 
was maddening ; her sight failed her, and her brain 
whirled, beneath the fierce struggle to repress 
every symptom of alarm, for she knew that assassin 
eyes were glaring around, watchful of each stir, 
lest any accident might reveal their deadly purpose 
an instant ere the time 

One effort, and he may yet be warned ! Me- 
lanthe drew her hood more closely over her 



MELAKTHE. 237 

face, and with a swift though steady step withdrew 
entirely from the crowd, and, gliding along behind 
the pillars, came at length within view of the spot 
occupied by Lorenzo. It was a little to the right 
of the altar, in front of which were placed chairs 
for the Legate, the Archbishop, and some of the 
chief stranger guests ; while Giuliano occupied 
the seat corresponding with that filled by his 
brother. To the left of Lorenzo, Melanthe in- 
stantly recognised Angelo Politiano, and others, 
who had been pointed out to her at Fiesole as the 
most intimate friends of the Medici ; but her heart 
froze within her, as she saw the cowls of the two 
priests, his destined murderers, who filled the place 
immediately behind Lorenzo. One rapid glance 
assured her that he was still safe. A second later, 
and all would have been lost ! She had contrived 
to pass the outer ranks of those who stood before 
her, when she heard the words resound from the 
altar, which were to be the death signal. 

" Hoc est enim Corpus meum /" solemnly pro- 
nounced the Priest, as he raised the consecrated 
host. The bell rang, and every knee was bent, 
and every head was bowed, when, with a fearful 



238 MELANTHE 

shriek, Melanthe threw herself suddenly forward, 
for she saw the cowled figure rise and the dagger 
gleam ! 

" Lorenzo, save thyself !" was all she could utter, 
as, with a violent effort, she caught the uplifted 
arm of the murderer. He staggered, and the half 
averted blow fell faintly upon the neck of Lorenzo, 
inflicting a slight wound. The pain made him 
start from the ground, and, wrapping his cloak 
round his left arm, he drew his sword, and struck 
down his assailant at the very moment that a figure 
darting from behind, and endeavouring to clasp 
Melanthe in its arms, received the blow intended 
by the second priest for Lorenzo, and fell dead at 
his feet. It was poor Gennaro ! Faithful to the 
last, he had followed to protect her whom he loved, 
and in the eflbrt he had perished ! 

" Melanthe ! is it thus we meet again ?'' cried 
Lorenzo, as he sprung to her side, and, grasping 
her with one arm, defended himself with the other 
as he strove to gain the door of the sacristy, which 
was only a few paces behind him. 

In an instant, the alarm spread around ; and a 
party of his friends, rushing to his succour, made a 



MELANTHE. 239 

rampart of their persons, and by pressing backwards, 
succeeded in clearing the entrance. Having placed 
Lorenzo in safety within the sacristy, Angelo 
Politiano closed the brazen doors. 

The tumult in the church had become fearful. 
Giuliano, struck down with too fatal aim by Fran- 
cesco and Bandini, lay dead before the altar; and such 
was the fury with which Francesco continued his 
attack, even after life had quitted the body, that 
he inflicted a severe wound upon himself, and fell 
prostrate by the side of his victim. The Legate, 
in an agony of terror, and surrounded by the 
priests, had taken refuge on the altar as a sanc- 
tuary : while the Archbishop, seeing Giuliano 
murdered, did not wait to ascertain the fate 
of Lorenzo, but quitted the church with thirty 
followers, in order to repair to the palace of the 
Signoria, and, proclaiming the death of the Medici, 
seize upon the seat of government, and reduce 
the magistrates to obedience. 

The two priests, aware of the consequences which 
the failure of their attempt would produce as soon 
as it was known, silently crept from the church, 
and fled from the city. So great was the confusion 



i 



240 MELANTHE. 

which prevailed in the first few moments of the 
attack, that those who were at the farther end of 
the church, could not immediately ascertain the 
cause of the disturbance, and, misled by the cry of 
" Fire !" which had been raised by the conspirators, 
rushed into the open air ; while some, imagining 
that the roof was falling, fled away with shrieks of 
terror, thereby increasing the uproar and confusion 
to such an extent, that it was with difficulty they 
could be made to understand what had happened. 

As soon, however, as they comprehended the 
matter, with one accord all returned, and, forming 
themselves into a body, entreated Lorenzo to place 
himself in the midst of them; then quitting the 
church by another door, that they might prevent 
his immediately seeing the body of Giuliano, which 
still lay before the altar, they conducted him safely 
to his own palace, and continued, supported by a 
body of troops, to keep guard over him. 

Meanwhile, the Archbishop was making his way 
to the palace of the Signoria. On his arrival, he 
inquired whether any of the magistrates were in 
attendance, having, as he said, a communication of 
importance to make to them. His high rank pro- 



MELANTHE. 241 

cured him instant admittance ; and, leaving some 
of his attendants with orders to seize upon the gates 
at a given signal, he entered the palace, accom- 
panied by the rest. The room, which joined that 
in which the magistrates were wont to assemble, 
was of a circular form ; and the Archbishop, who, 
it appeared, was aware of this circumstance, no 
sooner had entered the chamber, than he sent for- 
ward the officer by whom he was conducted, and 
directed the conspirators to close the doors gently 
as soon as he had passed, and then to await his 
signal from the inside room, when they were to 
rush in, and secure or put to death all who should 
offer any resistance. 

*' You understand,"" he said, turning to his fol- 
lowers, ere he quitted the room. " I will go in as 
though I had business which I would transact with 
the magistrates ; and by standing close to the door 
you will be ablei to ascertain how many persons are 
present. If I cough once, then there will be only 
four or five ; but should you hear me cough several 
times, then be sure that the assembly is larger, and 
prepare your weapons, as the number of the enemy 
may give them courage; but do not slay when you 

VOL. III. M 



S42 MELANTHE. 

can overpower witliout it. Do you understand 



me 



?^' 



" We do,"" replied several voices; and the Arch- 
bishop pushed the door, which had been left half 
open by the attendant, and disappeared through it. 

He little suspected that the very means he had 
taken to secure his safety, would tend to his 
destruction. The room in which he had left his 
followers, was one which belonged to the Gon- 
faloniere, or Chief Magistrate ; and, to protect his 
person from treachery, it was customary, upon the 
election of each Gonfaloniere, to change the locks 
and doors in a manner only known to himself and 
such as had charge of the palace. This informa- 
tion, not having been bestowed upon the Arch- 
bishop, he unsuspectingly allowed the door to close 
as he quitted the room ; the secret spring moved, 
and his attendants were imprisoned by his own 
hand. Unconscious of danger, he advanced to the 
inner chamber, expecting to find it occupied by few 
persons, instead of which, having been summoned 
accidentally upon some question of state, the whole 
body of the Signoria was present. 

Cesare Petrucci, the Gonfaloniere, was the first 



MELANTHE. 243 

person who met the eye of the Archbishop, who 
would have willingly encountered any number of 
strangers, rather than have been thus suddenly 
brought into contact with this man. The Gon- 
faloniere instantly rose to receive him ; and seeing 
that he remained standing near the door, begged 
that he would advance, at the same time placing a 
chair near his own seat at the head of the table. 
The Archbishop glanced round the circle ; but, as 
he raised his eyes to those of the Gonfaloniere, and 
met the calm and resolute glance of the man whom 
he knew to be as much distinguished by his courage 
as by his virtue and talents, the firmness of the 
conspirator began to waver, and, without taking the 
proffered seat, he said, hurriedly, 

" I thank you — but I would not interrupt your 

conference. My business — is — is of a nature "" 

and stopping suddenly, he looked uneasily around. 

" Of a secret nature, perhaps,"*" suggested the 
Gonfaloniere. " If so, the hour is well chosen. 
From the Signoria, we have no secrets. Will it 
please your Lordship to sit.?'' he added, again 
offering the chair; but the Archbishop only re- 



244 MELANTHE. 

treated nearer to the door, and seemed to have been 
suddenly seized with a violent fit of coughing. 

" I will not detain you,^ he said, when it had 
subsided ; " but,'" and he turned his head anxiously 
towards the door of the circular chamber, which 
was visible from the spot where he stood ; " but 
the Pope — his Holiness I mean " 

" What of his Holiness P'' asked the Gonfaloniere, 
apparently quite at a loss to account for the extra- 
ordinary hesitation of his visitor. 

" He has commanded me,'' he replied, and again 
his cough interrupted himj " Great Heaven,'' he 
said to himself, " can it be that they do not hear 
me? The door does not move." He, in vain, 
endeavoured to control the emotion which every 
instant was gaining strength over him. 

" It grieves me to see your Lordship stand like 
a menial at the door — will it not please you to be 
seated ?" asked the Gonfaloniere, who, like most 
people in authority at that period, being constantly 
exposed to treacherous attacks, was on his guard, and 
already suspected something from the pertinacity with 
which his visitor retained his position at the door. 



MELANTHE. 245 

" I will Stand here," replied the Archbishop, "if 
you will permit it; but I thank you for vour 
attention," he added, with an attempted gesture of 
courtesy, which was rendered ludicrous by the 
agitation of his manner. " It gives me much 
pleasure to inform you that your son — but here 

" and he began to draw from his bosom a 

variety of papers, which, one after another, from the 
trembling of his fingers, slipped from his grasp, 
and fell upon the floor. 

'^ My Lord the Archbishop is surely indisposed,"" 
exclaimed one of the Signoria, as he stooped to pick 
up the papers, at the same time turning a meaning 
glance upon the Gonfaloniere, upon whose brow he 
now read a confirmation of his own awakened sus- 
picions. 

" I much fear it," he replied. " Nay, my Lord, 
you are very pale — this business will wait — let me 
summon your attendants." 

" No, no !" cried the Archbishop, coughing still 
louder than before. " It is nothing — I would de- 
liver these credentials — the Pope ! My God, I am 
lost !" he exclaimed apart, as he strove to hold out 
the papers; but the trembling of his hands had 



246 MELANTHE. 

now extended to his whole body, and he shook 
from head to foot, while, with a face livid from 
agony, he continued to watch the door, which still 
remained closed. 

" Help ! help ! the Archbishop is ill,"" cried the 
Gonfaloniere, fully persuaded that some treachery 
was afloat. 

" Support him — see, his cough distracts him. 
Let some one summon his servants. You left them, 
I conclude, at the palace gate,"" he added with a 
glance so keen and full of meaning that the Arcli- 
bishop, to whom the last words were addressed, 
completely lost what little self-possession his terror 
had hitherto left him. 

" No, not the gate," he exclaimed ; " the round 
room — that door — open it. Will no one open 
it ?'' he cried with a shriek, in the faint hope that 
he might yet be heard by his followers. 

" The round room ! Then they are safe ! Secure 
the traitor — call up the guard,"" cried the Gonfa- 
loniere, drawing his sword, and rushing from the 
chamber. 

In an instant, the Archbishop was seized ; while, 
in a paroxysm of terror, he shouted to his attend- 



MELANTHE. 247 

ants for succour. They heard his voice, but were 
unable to extricate themselves ; while the Gonfalo- 
niere pressing forwards with shouts of" Treason !"" 
endeavoured to arouse the attention of the servants 
and attendants of the court. 

He had reached the top of the stairs, when a 
man bounding up the steps struck at him, ere he 
could reach him. The blow fell harmless on tlie 
balustrade, and the sword shivered on the marble, 
as the Gonfaloniere seized the conspirator, whom 
he recognised as Giacopo Poggio. Dragging him 
by the hair into the chamber of the Signoria, he 
was, after a short struggle, securely bound by the 
side of the Archbishop, who, mute with the cer- 
tainty of coming death, had passively submitted 
to be tied hand and foot to the heavy marble table 
in the centre of the room. 

The alarm within the palace was now general. 
The followers of the Archbishop, who had been 
left to secure the gates, hearing the noise, and 
not receiving the expected summons from their 
companions within, suspected the cause ; and, 
abandoning their post, rushed into the palace to the 
succour of their friends, but were instantly seized. 



248 MELANTHE. 

cut to pieces by the magistrates, who, with their 
guards and attendants, had armed themselves with 
any weapon they could find, and cut down all 
who attempted resistance. 

Many of the rebels, finding themselves without 
a leader, submitted ; and the gates of the palace 
having been secured, the Signoria assembled them- 
selves in an upper room, to decide upon the course 
they were to pursue. Scarcely had they entered 
the chamber, when their ears were assailed by the 
cry of " liberty ! liberty !"" from the street ; and 
throwing open the window, they saw the venera- 
able Jacopo de' Pazzi, mounted on a horse covered 
with ribbons, and followed by about a hundred 
soldiers, crying out " liberty !" and exhorting the 
people to join them. These were reinforced by a 
small body of troops, which came from the oppo- 
site end of the city ; and the magistrates perceived 
that an immediate attack upon the gates of the 
palace was meditated. 

Misled by the supposition that the Archbishop 
was by this time master of the palace, the insur- 
gents drew up before the gates, and demanded 
admittance. The answer they received was a volley 



MELANTHE. 249 

of Stones ; and with a wild cry of " the Pazzi 
and liberty !'" they rushed to the attack, and, aided 
by the superiority of numbers, in a few minutes 
forced the gates. But their triumph was short; 
for the inmates of the palace, being now fully 
roused, hurried to the support of those who had 
given way ; the rebels were repulsed, and after a 
sharp conflict, carried on almost hand to hand, the 
court was cleared and the gates again closed. At 
this instant, a large body of troops, escorted by 
an immense crowd, appeared at the end of the 
street ; and the assailants, whose number was fear- 
fully decreased, abandoned their attempt upon the 
palace, and fled in all directions. 



M 5 



CHAPTER XXII. 

Scarcely had the magistrates recovered from 
the suddenness of the attack which they had 
so gallantly repelled, when the body of people, 
whose approach had dispersed the insurgents, 
reached the palace, and the cries of the foremost 
announced to the Signoria the strange and terrible 
events which had occurred in the church ! But, as 
the soldiers advanced, a feeling of sorrow seemed 
to take place of the rage which the populace had 
exhibited the moment before ; and the crowd gave 
way as the troops filed to the right and left of the 
square, and presented to view the mournful pro- 
cession which entered the gates of the palace. 

Borne upon a temporary bier, the body of the 
murdered Giuliano was followed by his brother, 
and a large proportion of the nobles and citizens 
of Florence. Struggling with a grief almost too 



MELANTHE. 251 

heavy to bear, Lorenzo made a sign to the bearers 
to set down the corpse upon the steps of the palace ; 
and, although the blood still trickled from his own 
wound, it was not of himself he thought, as, with- 
drawing the cloak, which had been thrown over 
the corpse, the mangled limbs, from which the flesh 
had been actually torn by the violence of the blows, 
lay exposed to every eye. 

Lorenzo did not speak. He simply pointed to 
the body of his murdered brother — then clasping 
his hands, extended them towards the magistrates 
and people. The mute sorrow of this appeal was 
far more eloquent than words ; and as, overcome 
by grief, he suffered himself to be led away by his 
friends, a deafening shout of execration against 
the murderers rose from every quarter of the city ; 
while the cries of " Palle ! Palle ! Viva Lorenzo !'" 
were intermingled with demands for instant venge- 
ance, and entreaties that the traitors should be 
given up to the people. 

For a few moments the Signoria deliberated, but 
the arrival of a body of troops, bringing with them 
the already half-dead Francesco de' Pazzi, deter- 
mined the course that it was necessary to pursue. 



252 MELANTHE. 

The people no sooner discovered that the actual 
murderer of Giuliano was in the palace, than their 
fury rose to such a height, as to threaten more 
danger than might have been apprehended from 
the insurgents. With difficulty the soldiers pre- 
vented the populace from breaking down the walls; 
and many of the most influential of the citizens 
addressing the people, entreated their patience, 
while the magistrates within were deciding upon 
the fate of the prisoners. 

" Death ! death to the traitors ! Give them to 
us ! Tear them in pieces !" was the cry on all sides ; 
while the crowd gathered, and stones were even 
thrown at the doors and windows of the palace, to 
quicken the movements of those within. 

The whole population of Florence was by this 
time in a state of alarm ; every instant fresh 
numbers flocked to the spot, and the uproar con- 
tinued to increase. The people, excited to frenzy, 
had begun a furious attack upon the gates, when 
all at once the clamour ceased, and from that raving 
multitude not a sound was heard, while every eye 
was rivetted to one spot. 

The balcony of the principal window of the 



MELANTHE. 253 

palace was exactly opposite to the gates. From 
the stone work of this balcony, which projected 
several feet from the wall, two men were busily 
employed in adjusting ropes ; and soon the sacred 
robes of the Archbishop were visible, as he was 
forced along by two soldiers, and lifted upon the 
edge of the balustrade. The noose was adjusted ; 
and Francesco Salviati, Archbishop of Pisa, was 
hanged like a common felon before the eyes of the 
astonished people. On one side, Giacopo Poggio, 
on the other, Francesco de' Pazzi shared the same 
fate ; and as the Archbishop, in his agony, found 
himself close beside the man whom he looked upon 
as the chief instigator of the conspiracy, his rage 
was so uncontrollable, that he seized with his teeth 
the naked arm of the murderer, and held it until 
death put an end alike to his hatred and his power. 
The shout of exultation with which this bar- 
barous exhibition was received, proved to the 
Signoria that the advice of the Gonfaloniere had 
at least been judicious; and that any mode of 
vengeance less public, or more mild, would only 
have kept alive the spirit of anger until it merged 
into one of distrust towards the authorities which 



254 MELANTHE. 

had thwarted their desires of vengeance. The 
people, satisfied for the time, dispersed to seek in 
other parts of the city objects for their rage ; and 
before the close of the day, almost every person 
connected with the conspiracy was in the hands of 
the government. Some few were executed imme- 
diately ; while others were thrown into prison, in 
order to obtain a more full disclosure of the plot. 

Amongst these, was Luca Pitti, who, having 
fallen into the hands of the populace, as he was 
endeavouring to make his escape from the city, 
liad been so maltreated that he was not expected to 
survive. Jacopo de' Pazzi had also been taken by 
them ; and as he had been seen publicly inciting 
the people to revolt, no chance of escape was left 
to him ; and the old man, who, against his better 
judgment, had been dragged from the peaceful 
retirement of his villa to become the leader of an 
insurrection, was hanged from the balcony of the 
palace, by the side of his nephew, Francesco, whose 
restless ambition and hatred of the Medici had 
been the mainspring of this infamous conspiracy. 

For some days the bodies of the murderers were 
suffered to remain exposed, until the public rage 



MELAXTHE. 255 

having somewhat moderated, they were taken down 
from the balcony and buried. That of Jacopo de' 
Pazzi was interred in the Church of Santa Croce ; 
but no sooner was the fact publicly known, than 
the tumult awoke again. The people rose in a 
mass, declaring that some awful visitation would 
fall upon their city, if the body of a murderer 
were suffered to remain within its walls. The fact 
that a torrent of rain so incessant and violent, as to 
be deemed supernatural, had fallen ever since such 
an offence against the sanctity of their church had 
been committed, was adduced by them as a proof 
of the anger of Heaven ; and the magistrates, 
anxious to calm the excitement of the people by 
appearing to yield to their prejudices, gave orders 
for the removal of the body to a distance from the 
city. But not even there was it suffered to remain 
in peace. A multitude of children, eager to imitate 
the spirit of fury they had witnessed in others, 
dragged the corpse from the grave ; and, after 
treating it with every indignity they could devise, 
threw it into the Arno. 

The two priests, who had undertaken the murder 
of Lorenzo, were discovered in a Benedictine 



256 MELANTHE. 

monastery, and literally torn to pieces by the 
enraged populace. 

Thus the chief actors in the conspiracy met, 
almost instantaneously, the fate they deserved: 
but there was one, who alone contrived to escape 
to a distance, and for some time eluded all the 
efforts of the Florentines to discover his retreat. 
This was Bernardo Bandini, who, with Francesco, 
had been the actual murderer of Giuliano. He 
saved himself by flight ; and it was not for two 
years afterwards that he was discovered at Con- 
stantinople, having incautiously betrayed his secret. 
Mahomet II., aware of the anxiety of the republic 
of Florence to secure him, and being desirous of 
conciliating Lorenzo, caused Bandini to be seized, 
and sent home in chains, to receive the reward of 
his crime. 

Thus ended a conspiracy, which, from the high 
rank and sacred calling of most of its chief actors, 
as well as the length of time the wanton spirit of 
hatred and ambition had been secretly nursed in 
the bosom of so many ere it was suffered to break 
forth, forms one of the most remarkable plots 
recorded in history. 



MELANTHE. 257 

The attempt to annihilate the power of the 
Medici, although ostensibly based upon a principle 
of liberty, was in fact but the desire of substi- 
tuting one power for another. Had it succeeded, 
it would have remained still to be decided, whether 
the ambition of the Pope, aided by the revengeful 
spirit of the Archbishop of Pisa, for the affront 
offered to him by Lorenzo, or the hatred and 
jealousy of the Pazzi, goaded on by the discontent 
of Luca Pitti, and others of the principal nobles, 
each secretly hoping to supplant the other, would 
have triumphed. In either case, individual interest 
being the real motive, the grandeur or welfare of 
the republic could scarcely have derived benefit 
from the change ; and the attempt to subvert the 
authority of the Medici, like all demonstrations 
of a spirit of rebellion against a government in no 
wise tyrannical, only created the evil they affected 
to deprecate. 

From the fall of the Pazzi, may be dated all the 
inclination to despotism, of which, in after-days, 
the Medici were accused. Hitherto, they had 
ruled through the affections of the people ; and 
the glorious inscription upon the tomb of Cosmo, 



258 MELANTHE. 

SO beautifully called, " the Father of his people ! "" 
sufficiently demonstrates the estimation in which 
they were held. The short but gentle rule of 
Piero did not belie the promise of his sire ; but 
upon the young Lorenzo, the hopes and hearts and 
pride of the Florentines were doubly fixed. 

Lorenzo, whose unbounded generosity and powers 
of intellect and taste had early procured for him 
the title of " The Magnificent," was the idol of the 
people. In him, they saw united, even from his 
boyish days, all the justness of opinion, promptitude 
of action, and earnest love and pride of his country, 
which had distinguished his ancestors : added to 
which, the high cultivation of his extraordinary 
mental powers, and his exquisite appreciation of 
the merits of science and the arts, elevated him so 
much beyond all who had gone before, that his 
fellow citizens looked up to him not only with 
reverence and affection, but also with the proud 
feeling of minds capable of the just desire of fame ; 
as one, through whose almost miraculous gifts, 
their country and their name might be in after- 
ages gloriously celebrated. With these sentiments, 
it is not surprising, that the violence of grief and 



MELAXTHE. £59 

anger which, upon the discovery of the conspiracy 
of the Pazzi, pervaded every Florentine bosom, 
should have driven a people naturally sensitive and 
excitable, beyond the bounds of justice or forbear- 
ance. It was with great difficulty that they were 
prevented from breaking into the prisons, in order 
to tear limb from limb the conspirators confined 
there. 

The news of the wound of Lorenzo caused a 
general panic ; and night and day crowds sur- 
rounded his house, filling the air with lamentations 
for Giuliano, and prayers for the recovery of 
Lorenzo. More than once he was obliged to show 
himself, to convince them that his wound was not 
of a serious nature. Notwithstanding that he was 
bowed down with grief, his address to the people 
was mild and courteous ; and his most urgent and 
only prayer was, that they would allow the magis- 
trates to decide upon the fate of the prisoners, and 
not, by an ill-regulated violence, confound the guilty 
with those who perhaps might be found to have 
been only partially implicated in the conspiracy. 

The good sense of Lorenzo produced a beneficial 
effect ; and he was rewarded for his forbearance 



260 MELANTHE. 

by the public manifestations of grief for the death 
of Giuliano ; while to himself a testimony of the 
estimation in which they held his person, was 
speedily offered by the decree of the Signoria, 
granting him Royal honours, and ordering that 
henceforth a guard of soldiers should attend upon 
him in public and keep watch before his palace, — 
a mark of distinction, which had never hitherto 
been bestowed upon any citizen of Florence. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

While the city of Florence was still disturbed 
by these fierce and tragical occurrences, Melanthe 
remained at home, weighed down by grief. Yield- 
ing to the urgency of her entreaties, Lorenzo, after 
the first alarm had subsided, had reluctantly 
consented to allow her to return to the house of 
Caterina; and Melanthe had been conducted 
thither by an escort of his most trusty friends, who 
would willingly have borne along in triumph one, 
whom they justly looked upon as the saviour of 
him who was so dear to them. 

Having fulfilled the duty which she had been 
called upon to perform, Melanthe sought anxiously 
to withdraw herself from public notice ; and having 
only asked of Lorenzo permission to conceal the 
manner by which she had been made acquainted with 



262 MELAXTHE. 

the danger in which he stood, she retired to her 
humble abode, and took her station by the body of 
Gennaro, which, at her request, had been conveyed 
from the church to the house of Caterina. And 
now, as she sat beside the breathless form of the 
poor Greek boy, who had been her constant friend 
through so many difficulties and dangers, she felt, 
indeed, that life had as completely closed for her 
as for the inanimate clay upon which her tears 
were falling. The untimely fate of Gennaro 
seemed to cast a still darker shadow around her. 
She was the cause of his death ; and as he lay 
cold and immoveable before her, her mind wandered 
back to scenes of other days. She thought upon 
the many years when, ere passion had kindled or 
pride had hardened the heart of either, Gennaro 
had been to her as a brother, — when, as children, 
they had played together, studied the same task, 
and when the infirmity with which he had been 
afflicted had only endeared him still more to those 
who knew the gentleness and affection of his 
nature. 

These days had passed; yet scarcely had the 



MELANTHE. 263 

grace of manhood begun to mingle with the wild 
gaiety of the boy, when the smile vanished from 
his lips, and the flush of his glowing cheek grew 
pale. Why had this been so ? The heart of 
Melanthe sunk as it replied, " because of his love 
for her."" He had loved her, and she, scornful and 
unpitying, had despised his affection. In the full- 
ness of her own content, or the selfishness of her 
own grief, she had scarcely given a thought to his 
sorrow, nay, had sometimes even forgotten his very 
existence, until reminded of it by the sweet offi- 
ciousness of love, which brought him ever to her 
side in the moment of danger or distress. And 
she had received his succour gently indeed, but 
with a calm coldness by which a nature like his 
must have been wounded to the quick. Was it 
then such a sin to have loved her, or, loving, to 
have buried his grief within his own bosom, and 
still watched over her with untiring patience? 
And for this she had never vouchsafed a word of 
comfort ; but, entrenched within her pride, had 
concealed both her sorrows and her joys from one 
so loving and generous, that he would have wept 



264 MELANTHE. 

with her tears, and smiled if she rejoiced, even 
while his own heart was sinking under its grief and 
disappointment. 

Now he was gone, and for ever ! without one 
tear of sympathy which might have soothed and 
reconciled him to the abandonment of his hopes. 
Oh ! could Melanthe, in that hour of stern self- 
communion which she held by the side of the dead, 
have recalled to her mind one instant when even a 
word of pity had been given to calm the tempest of 
hidden sorrow, or in which her unbending pride 
had stooped to confide in the heart she knew to be 
her own, what a ray of comfort would now have 
shone upon the darkness of her regret ! 

Frightened and shocked by the unhallowed ad- 
dresses of the Cardinal, she had taken refuge in 
her virtue, and her reserve, and for the moment all 
semblance of love bore to her eyes the same unholy 
tint ; and she had treated the gentle and submissive 
Gennaro with the same sternness she had displayed 
towards the iron-breasted libertine Borgia. If she 
ever had contemplated a line of conduct more 
marked by pity and by kindness, she had, as is so 



MELANTHE. 265 

often the case when we forget the uncertainty of 
life, deferred the execution of her plan to some 
future day ; and now she felt that she had ex- 
ercised a useless and uncalled for severity towards 
one who, if she could not love, was too good for 
her to have feared. 

But regret was vain. Gennaro lay dead before 
her. Dead — and for her ! Still for her had been 
his every thought and action : while Montesecco, 
he, upon whom her whole soul relied, had aban- 
doned her — condemned her without a hearing. 
Equally tenacious in his pride, he had, upon a 
mere suspicion, cast her oiF, and now she was alone 

: in the world. Alone ! There is something in 
that word full of misery to the dependant nature of 
woman ; and Melanthe shrunk from the thought, 
as, with trembling fingers, she clasped the frozen 
hand of Gennaro, and tried to banish from her 
mind the certainty that an hour was fast ap- 

I proaching when the tomb must claim its own, and 
she should be yet more terribly alone ! 

Heedless of her sorrow, the hand of time moved 
on ; and Melanthe stood by the newly-made grave, 

VOL. III. N 



^66 MELANTHE. 

bathing with her tears the marble that covered the 
last resting-place of the poor Greek boy — the fond 
— the beautiful, and the true. 

Then she felt anew the misery of losing a faithful 
friend — even if that friend be not of our own 
choosing, still it is a loss, that wrings tears of blood 
from the heart ! She looked upon the grave, and 
then hurriedly cast a glance upon the bright blue 
sky that canopied the earth — was there upon the 
bosom of that wide earth, one heart that loved her 
like that which now lay cold and still within the 
tomb ? It is a dreadful hour, when we ask this 
question, as we stand beside the last home of the I 
dead ; and the silence seems to answer, " No ! not 
one ! '' 

And yet more dreadful is it, when, in the flush 
of life and health, the living tomb closes upon our 
hope, and the silence of the heart we trusted tells 
us we are abandoned, and doomed to drag on an 
existence of misery. Bitter indeed is this lot to 
bear ! and Melanthe, whilst she knelt by the grave 
of Gennaro, felt with anguish that she could better 
have endured to kneel by the tomb of Montesecco, 



MELANTHE. 267 

than to breathe the same air that he breathed, yet 
to know that his heart was estranged from her for 
ever ! 

'' Lady ! " said Caterina, who had accompanied 
Melanthe to the funeral, " do not weep any longer 
beside that grave ! Be comforted, the Holy Saints 
have taken your brother to their keeping. Come, 
let me lead you home."*" 

" Not yet," replied Melanthe, as with a fresh 
burst of weeping she threw herself upon the 
ground. Caterina knelt by her side, and endea- 
voured to support her upon her breast, gently 
caressing: the beautiful head of Melanthe in the 
hope of comforting her. 

" I will go to the priest to-night," said the poor 
woman, " and he shall say a mass for your brother's 
soul ; and I have money enough to buy a large 
waxen taper to burn before the shrine. Be com- 
forted, my poor child ! You say you have rich 
relations at Rome, so you can endow a chapel, and 
he will pass lightly through purgatory. Do not 
grieve so, Signora ! — he was so young and so 
gentle — he cannot have done much wrong. See, 



268 MELANTHE. 

here is your rosary — tell your beads, and the Holy 
Virgin will smile upon you from Heaven ! — Here, 
take them, and I will say a prayer to the blessed 
Madonna myself ! " and the good old woman bent 
down by the side of Melanthe, and prayed, and at 
length prevailed upon the weeping girl to rise, and 
saw with joy that she was more calm. 

" I am glad we are going home," observed 
Caterina, " for there is a crowd gathering before 
us ; and the city is by no means quiet. Yesterday, 
after the funeral of the Signor Giuliano de' Medici, 
the streets were in an uproar, the people wanted to 
break into the prisons."" 

" Good Caterina," said Melanthe, " had we not 
better go round by the upper bridge ? — I am so 
afraid of the crowd." 

" We shall be safer in the public way," replied 
Caterina, " for, if any danger happens, we can go to 
some of the soldiers. The streets are full of them ; 
and besides, we shall pass the house of the Signor 
Angelo Politiano, and he desired me, if you wanted 
anything, to be sure to go to him." 

" As you will, Caterina," said Melanthe ; " I 



MELANTHE. 269 

only wish to get home as quietly as possible, and 
not to see any one." 

But it was by no means the wish of Caterina not 
to see any one. For five long days she had been 
almost entirely shut up in her house, and her 
curiosity had been very imperfectly gratified by 
the few particulars she had been able to discover. 
They moved on therefore towards the city ; and 
for some time their steps were unimpeded ; but on 
entering the street where the palace of the Signoria 
was situated, they found the way thronged. Citi- 
zens of every rank mingled with the lowest classes 
of the people, children, women, and soldiers, so 
blocked up the passage, that it was almost impos- 
sible to advance. The multitude, though dense, 
was orderly ; and, by the look of intense anxiety 
with which every face was turned to the door of 
the palace, some great event connected with it 
seemed pending, 

" Good people, let us pass, if you please,"^ said 
Caterina, pushing her way through the crowd, 
while Melanthe followed her. 

" That is easier said than done," replied several, 
as they tried to make a little room. 



270 MELANTHE. 

" Stand still in front," screamed a shrill voice, 
" we are pushed under the horses' feet.*" 

" Misericordia ! help me up i " said another, 
apparently from the ground, and a man divested 
of cap and cloak, and with his face covered with 
dust, was lifted from the earth, after having been 
nearly trampled to death. 

" Santa Maria ! we shall never get through,"^ 
said Caterina. 

" Let us return, pray do, good Caterina,'^ sug- 
gested Melanthe in a low voice, as she endeavoured 
to draw Caterina from the spot where she stood ; 
but it was now almost as difficult to recede as 
to advance, and Caterina had not the slightest 
wish to get out of the crowd. 

" You had better stand still, Signora, and wait 
for the decree," said a young citizen, who, as the 
hood of Melanthe was dragged aside by the pres- 
sure of the crowd, had caught a glimpse of her 
beautiful face. 

" Ay, take the Signor's advice, " whispered 
Caterina ; " see, he has made room for you ; stand 
upon the step, and you will see better." 

Melanthe mechanically obeyed, and Caterina con- 



MELANTHE. 271 

tinued: — " Well, and what are you all standing 
here for ? what are we to see ?*" 

" Nothing," replied a surly looking man next 
to her ; " but we shall hear." 

" Hear what ?" asked Caterina, who was dying 
with curiosity. 

" Why, the decree of the Signoria, of course^ 
replied the man. 

" What decree ? what is it ?" urged Caterina ; 
but the man only shrugged his shoulders, like 
many people, not conceiving it possible that others 
should be ignorant of that which he knew him- 
self. 

" Gentil Signor," said Caterina, to the citizen 
who had given them room upon his step, " what 
is the decree of which they speak ? what is going 
to happen ?" 

" The magistrates are trying the prisoners im- 
plicated in the conspiracy," replied the citizen ; 
" and the result will be announced to the people." 

" Hush ! silence !" was now shouted from all 
sides, and the window of the balcony was observed 
to open. In a moment every tongue was mute, 
and every ear was strained to catch the expected 



272 MELANTHE. 

words. The officer advanced to the edge of the 
balcony, and in a loud voice proclaimed that the 
Signoria had found the prisoners guilty, and that 
they were to be beheaded the next morning at sun- 
rise in the public place. A deafening shout of 
exultation burst from the crowd, and ran along 
the street as the news was communicated to those 
at a distance, who could not have heard the words 
of the officer. The people were not yet sated with 
blood ; and the news of the promised execution 
was received as though a festival had been pro- 
claimed. 

The crowd which had been pressed together into 
one mass now began to waver, and symptoms 
appeared of an intention to disperse. Melanthe, who 
bore with difficulty the sorrow which oppressed 
her, and who longed for the seclusion of her home, 
touched the arm of Caterina, and entreated her 
to try and advance. Just at" that moment the 
gates of the palace opened; and, preceded and 
surrounded by soldiers with their swords drawn, 
the prisoners appeared, who had just received their 
condemnation. They walked bareheaded, and their 
arms were bound with cords to their sides. The 



MELANTHE. 273 

first that came was Giacopo Salviati, brother to 
the Archbishop of Pisa ; and such was the double 
detestation in which the crime of the murderous 
prelate was regarded, by a people, whose deep 
respect for their priests formed a striking feature 
in their character, that a torrent of abuse instantly 
overwhelmed him. Every opprobrious epithet they 
could devise was heaped upon him ; and mothers 
pointed him out to their children, as an object of 
hatred and contempt. The cheek of the old man 
blanched when he looked upon the threatening 
multitude, and instinctively he drew near to the 
soldiers, as the fierce words and execrations of the 
people met his ear. 

Three others, whose dress and shaven crowns 
betokened to belong to the sacred calling followed, 
and were in like manner hissed and hooted by tlie 
crowd ; when all at once, as the fifth prisoner 
descended the steps, the tumult was hushed, for a 
moment there was a dead silence, and then above 
the stilled and pity-stricken multitude, rung out 
a cry of such thrilling agony, that every eye was 
turned towards the spot from whence it came. 

The cry was that of the uncontrollable grief 
N 5 



274 MELANTHE. 

that bursts from a breaking heart ; and, as it 
reached the ear of Montesecco, for it was his 
appearance in the character of a condemned culprit 
which had been its cause, he started, and his pale 
cheek glowed as he turned his eyes anxiously upon 
the crowd. His heart too truly told him that there 
was but one who could thus feel for him in his 
hour of danger and disgrace. For an instant the 
certainty that Melanthe was near, took from him 
the recollection of the position in which he stood ; 
and with violent efforts he endeavoured to burst 
his bonds, as he threw himself forward towards 
the spot from whence the cry had issued. He 
was soon recalled, however, to a sense of his 
unhappy situation by the soldiers who surrounded 
him, and who, seizing upon him, forced his steps 
in a contrary direction, and in a few moments he 
was lost to view. But the crowd, ever eager for 
an object whereon to vent its excitement, had now 
turned all its attention to the unfortunate Melanthe, 
who, senseless in the arms of those who had at the 
time been nearest to her, knew not the cruel and 
unjust remarks which were ventured by many of 
the bystanders, as, in order to recover her, the hood 



MELANTHE. 275 

and cloak were torn from her shoulders, and the 
rare beauty of her face and form revealed to every 
eye. In vain did poor Caterina, who immediately 
recognised in Montesecco the visitor who had come 
to her house at so early an hour, the day of the 
murder of Giuliano, attempt to deny that it was 
his appearance wliich had overwhelmed Melanthe 
with grief. 

" I tell you," she persisted, " she knows nothing 
of the prisoner. She has lost her brother — we 
were coming back from his funeral." 

" That may be," replied the surly man, who 
seemed, from the first moment, to have taken a 
particular dislike to Caterina. 

" But she knows the prisoner also, and I dare 
say was implicated in the plot." 

" She, poor child !" exclaimed the pitying voice 
of a woman ; " what does she know of plots ? 
Perhaps she loves him." 

" Ah !" said another, " he is handsome enough 
for that." 

" Santa Maria ! What a pity to cut off such a 
head !" 



276 MELANTHE. 

" Yes, and did you see what a beautiful form, — 
why, he was taller, by a head, than any of the sol- 
diers,'' replied a young girl, who was endeavouring 
to raise herself to catch another glimpse of Mon- 
tesecco, as he moved down the street. 

" Now, by the bones of St. Peter, only to hear 
how women talk," exclaimed the surly man ; " what 
does it signify what the man's head was like — it 
will be chopped off in the morning." 

" But it does signify. You saw the people 
would not hoot at him — he was so beautiful," said 
the girl. " I tell you, he was the Ambassador of 
the Pope. I saw him at the masque at Fiesole, and 
he was the handsomest man there." 

" And the grandest," cried another ; " I saw 
him come in, and, Madre di Dio ! but his dress 
was all velvet and gold and jewels — finer than the 
grand petticoat of the Virgin at our convent." 

" Peace, will you .?" said the surly man ; " if he 
is a noble knight, the more shame for him to be a 
murderer !" 

" He is no murderer, I dare be sworn," said 
Caterina, who could not help feeling degraded by 



MELANTHE. 277 

the idea of being implicated with persons of such 
doubtful character. " But see — she revives — good 
friends, stand back, and give her a little air, and 
do not say such cruel words before her. I tell you 
she is unhappy — her brother was buried to-day." 

" Poor thing ! poor child !"" was now uttered in 
various tones of commiseration by the volatile 
crowd, ever ready for a new impression. 

" Yes, and moreover,"" continued Caterina, whose 
natural love of talking began to revive the moment 
she found that she was likely to escape being taken 
up as a conspirator ; " only for the poor boy that 
she is mourning for, you, my good citizens, would 
have lost your ruler."" 

" How ? where ? what does she say ?" asked a 
hundred tongues. 

" I say,"" replied Caterina, whose self-importance 
was rapidly gaining ground, " that poor Gennaro, 
who was buried this morning, was killed in the 
church, trying to save Lorenzo de"' Medici ; and 
that this is his sister, that you want to make out a 
conspirator.'' 

The declaration of Caterina, uttered with a loud 



278 , MELANTHE. 

voice, produced an effect almost miraculous. The 
Florentines, wild and excitable to an extraordinary 
degree, had no sooner heard the words than they 
rent the air with shouts of applause ; and having 
forced Caterina to tell the name of their new idol, 
they coupled it with every blessing and expression 
of fondness their voluble tongues could utter, pres- 
sing forward to kiss her hands, her garments, and 
even poor old Caterina, who found herself suddenly 
transported into a heaven of bliss. 

In the midst of all this tumult of applause, Me- 
lanthe opened her eyes; and not being the least aware 
that it was directed towards herself, she imagined 
that by some means a reprieve or pardon had been 
granted to the prisoners, and, for an instant, a ray 
of hope lighted up her face, as she glanced towards 
the street leading to the prison; But the street 
was empty. The look of profound discouragement 
and misery with which she withdrew her eyes, and 
turned them upon the many faces which surrounded 
her, while the tears fell fast upon her cheeks, so 
deeply touched the heart of the sensitive people, 
that they ceased their clamour, and all, with one 



MELANTHE. 279 

accord, uncovered their heads, as if from respect to 
the deep grief by which they saw she was oppressed. 
This gentle tribute to her sorrow was a balm to the 
heart of Melanthe ; and as soon as she could move, 
she arose, and, leaning on the arm of Caterina, she 
bowed with a sad smile to those who had assisted 
her, and laid her hand upon her heart, for she 
could not speak. Many a blessing, and many a 
prayer followed her mute appeal to the sympathy 
of the crowd ; and more than one bright eye was 
dimmed with tears, as the people watched her whilst 
ascending the steps of the palace of the Signoria, 
whither she had made a sign to Caterina to lead her. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

The appearance of Montesecco, in the character 
of a condemned criminal, had occasioned a shock of 
so much severity to Melanthe, that her physical 
powers had been totally unable to support it. She 
had calculated with such confidence, upon his 
timely escape from the city on the morning of the 
murder, that she had never allowed her mind to 
dwell upon the possibility of his danger ; but Mon- 
tesecco, although he had escaped from immediate 
death, had been captured ere he could reach the 
frontier ; and the very circumstance of his flight 
must have betrayed his secret, even had not the 
confession of others amongst the conspirators suffi- 
ciently implicated him to render the sentence of 
death an act of justice. 

Even at that moment, when, by a timely declara- 



MELANTHE. 281 

tion of the circumstances which had led to his join- 
ing the conspiracy, as well as the fact of his secession 
from it, having been the means of saving the life of 
Lorenzo, he might have averted the fatal blow 
about to fall upon him, Montesecco had preserved 
silence. That proud and sensitive heart could not 
brook to lay open its workings to the eye of man ; 
and so deep was his love for her, who, he fancied, 
had cruelly wronged him, that death was to him far 
preferable to the misery of admitting to others even 
a suspicion of her unworthiness. His peace was 
gone for ever ; and with a feeling of proud despair 
he scorned to owe to the intercession of his rival 
the life which he had embittered. In silence, 
therefore, had Montesecco submitted to his sen- 
tence. 

The unhappiness of Melanthe, although it had 
nearly paralysed her faculties, could not long deter 
her from the course which she felt she ought to 
pursue. There might be shame, there was misery 
in the disclosure she was about to make : but the 
life of a fellow creature was at stake ; and had the 
accused been one in whom she had never felt an 



MELANTHE. 



interest, the feeling of rectitude, which was the 
ruling principle of the conduct of Melanthe, would 
have led her to adopt the same course. 

She entered the palace of the Signoria with one 
thought — to speak the truth, and no selfish consi- 
deration could have deterred her from her object. 
The moment when, impelled by circumstances so 
unforeseen, she had been forced to demand an 
audience of the magistrates, was well adapted to 
strike with awe a young and isolated stranger ; 
and as Melanthe, separated from Caterina, advanced 
alone into the midst of that grave assembly of states- 
men, for an instant her step faltered and her eye 
fell ; but she rallied, quickly, as the thought of her 
high purpose rushed to her mind. 

The whole body of the Signoria was present; and, 
asshe scanned the faces which bent their curiouslooks 
upon her, not one countenance familiar to her 
eye appeared, — neither was any of the magistrates 
aware that she who stood before them was the 
saviour of Lorenzo. Though her cheek was pale 
and her lip trembling, such was the beauty and 
noble bearing of the afflicted girl, that a feeling of 



MELANTHE. 

interest and respect immediately rivetted the atten- 
tion of all present. 

" I come,"' she said, addressing herself to the 
Gonfaloniere, who was distinguished by his occupying 
a seat raised above the rest, " not to implore your 
pity, but to demand justice. But now, there is one 
gone out from your presence branded with a mur- 
derer's name, to die a murderer's death — Montesecco 
— the brave, the noble Montesecco ! He must not 
perish. And yet, Signori, I dare not say that he is 
altogether innocent, though guilty he cannot be, or 
I should not now stand here before you, nor would 
Lorenzo live !" 

*' How !" exclaimed the Gonfaloniere, as Me- 
lanthe, overcome by her feelings, paused for a 
moment. 

" What mean these words ? The name of Mon- 
tesecco stands foremost on the list." 

" It may have done so, and yet my words are 
true,'"* replied Melanthe. "It was Montesecco, who 
revealed the whole of the conspiracy to me on the 
morning of the murder. I flew to the church ; and 
it was this hand, directed by his words, that saved 



284 MELANTHE. 

the life of Lorenzo de' Medici. Now, my lords, 
will you still say that he is guilty ?" 

The astonishment with which this communication 
was received by the assembly, produced silence ; but 
more thanonelook of incredulity was directed towards 
the chief magistrate ; and he, well aware that, in 
those days, none could trust the other, hesitated to 
give credence to her words, and replied, with a 
solemnity which froze her heart, 

" The decrees of the Signoria may not be 
reversed." 

" But if they are unjust?*" cried Melanthe. 

" The prisoner made no defence,'' was the reply. 

" And that itself is equal to an admission of 
guilt," suggested one of the magistrates. 

Melanthe turned her look from one to another 
with intense anxiety, and then exclaimed, with a 
trembling voice, " And will you show no mercy — no 
justice to one who repents even at the eleventh hour? 
Think, think what might have been the fate of Lo- 
renzo, the fate of Florence, had it not been for the 
repentance of Montesecco ; and will you sentence 
him, who saved your city, to die a felon's death ?" 



MELANTHE. 285 

To this appeal no immediate answer was re- 
turned. A whispered observation passed between 
some of the magistrates, and one of them, address- 
ing Melanthe, replied, 

" Lady ! we grieve to seem to doubt your words ; 
yet, in so grave a matter, further proof would be 
necessary, to stay the execution of a criminal. We 
would gladly lean to the side of mercy, but in an 
hour like this suspicion becomes a virtue, for we 
know not whether we speak to foe or friend. Be 
not offended, then, if we should say so strange a 
tale requires some further confirmation." 

Whilst these words were slowly uttered, the 
changing countenance of Melanthe showed how 
bitter was the strife of feeling she endured. At 
one moment, horror blanched her lips, as she 
imagined the fate of Montesecco to be irrevocably 
fixed; and then the recollection that by having 
refused to confide to the ear of Lorenzo the se- 
cret she had now disclosed, she had deprived 
herself of powerful aid, made her heart sicken : 
but when she heard the insinuated doubts of the 
magistrate as to the veracity of her tale, it seemed 



286 MELANTHE. 

as though the wild and throbbing blood must burst 
from the veins it swelled. She stood erect, her 
small beautiful head thrown back, and her flashing 
eye turned successively on each countenance before 
her, as if to choose the head on which to pour the 
torrent of the scorn with which such doubts had 
filled her. 

With a firm step, she advanced, and laid her 
hand upon the table ; but ere she could speak, the 
door opened, and Lorenzo, accompanied by Jacopo 
Orsini, Angelo Politiano, and a priest, holding 
some papers in his hand, suddenly entered. The 
surprise with which Lorenzo beheld Melanthe 
standing thus alone before the assembled magis- 
trates, did not make him forget the anxiety he felt 
that she should be received at Florence with the 
honour and respect to which she was so justly 
entitled ; and before he entered upon the business 
which had been his object in coming to the palace 
of the Signoria, he bent his knee before her, and 
reverently pressed her hand to his lips. Jacopo 
Orsini and Angelo Politiano followed his example ; 
and the poor girl, who, a moment before, had stood 



MELANTHE. 287 

before the magistrates in the uncertain light of a 
suppliant, an impostor, or a spy, was, by this act 
of homage, raised in their eyes to the dignity of 
a queen. 

The Gonfaloniere immediately informed Lorenzo 
of the nature of her declaration ; and Melanthe 
could scarcely restrain a cry of joy, as the reply of 
Lorenzo reached her ear : — 

" Not only is it true, but Montesecco must be 
saved. I myself will pay his ransom, should the 
state demand it. And now, Signora,'^ he con- 
tinued, turning to Melanthe, " I would spare you 
the pain which it will cause you to listen to some 
of the disclosures about to be made to the Signoria ; 
but it may not be. The matter is too grave, and 
there is much that concerns you. I will therefore 
pray your patience, while the good father Piero 
reads the confession of the dying Luca Pitti — the 
fouUest traitor that ever entered the walls of a 
prison." 

The magistrates started at these words ; for 
Luca Pitti, until the last moment, had contrived 
completely to deceive them ; and Melanthe having. 



288 MELANTHE. 

at the request of the Gonfaloniere, seated herself at 
the council table, the priest proceeded to read the 
confession, by which was set forth the long suc- 
cession of artifices which, between Luca Pitti and 
the Cardinal Borgia, had, for their individual pur- 
poses, been practised against Melanthe : and though 
the cheek of Lorenzo burned with a crimson blush, 
while the poor girl bent down her head, as the 
accusation against her, in which he was implicated, 
was related, yet neither shrunk from the trial ; and 
a full confession having been made, the villainy of 
the projectors was laid bare, and the innocence of 
the victim fully established. 

A burst of indignation followed this part of the 
narrative ; but Lorenzo, entreating the assembly to 
have patience, desired the priest to read the sequel, 
which disclosed the motive of a long life of infamy, 
and divulged the secret of the birth of Montesecco, 
a secret which had never been suspected by any of 
the most intimate friends of Luca Pitti. 

By this confession, it was clearly proved, that the 
real name of Montesecco was Uberto di Cione ; that 
he was the only son of Martino di Cione, one of the 



MELANTHE. 289 

richest citizens of Florence, and cousin to Luca 
Pitti. Martino, having made a journey into 
France, accompanied by his son, then an infant, and 
Luca Pitti, was, with his child, supposed to have 
perished in crossing the Alps, during a severe snow 
storm ; and his large fortune had, consequently, 
reverted to Luca Pitti. Part of it had been 
employed in building the palace which bore his 
name, and which was yet unfinished ; but the 
greater part was still in his possession. 

It was quite true that Martino di Cione had 
perished, but it needed an hour like the present 
to tear the secret from the guilty breast of the 
murderer. He had died by the hand of his cousin ; 
Luca Pitti, was about to inflict the same fate 
upon the infant Uberto, when, either a feeling of 
compassion found entrance to his bosom, or his 
own childless state suggested another course. He 
spared Uberto ; and having carried him to a dis- 
tance, bribed some peasants to declare that he was 
their son, whom Luca Pitti had adopted. After a 
few years he became fearless of detection ; he avowed 
his interest in the young Montesecco, and gave 

VOL. III. o 



290 MELA^iTHE. 

him the education he was entitled to receive. The 
career of arms had been chosen by the young man, 
and such was the distinction he had gained as the 
redoubted Condottiere, that Luca Pitti secretly 
nourished the hope of seeing him one day master 
of Florence. 

His marriage with Melanthe would have been a 
bar to these ambitious schemes ; and Luca Pitti 
had, therefore, unscrupulously endeavoured to pre- 
vent it : but the failure of the conspiracy anni- 
hilated every hope ; and the near approach of death 
had inspired the guilty wretch with a desire of 
making his peace with God by a full disclosure of 
the motives of his several crimes, and a total excul- 
pation of the persons he had accused. 

When the narrative was concluded, a deep silence 
reigned in the assembly. The complication of 
perfidy and crime with which the extreme of worldly 
ambition had overwhelmed the man, whose dying 
words had proclaimed his own guilt, filled every 
bosom with horror. Then, while all hearts sym- 
pathised with the poor orphan, who had first been 
despoiled of his inheritance, and then urged and 



MELANTHE. 291 

goaded into crime through the finest feelings of his 
nature, Lorenzo once more demanded of the magis- 
trates the pardon and release of Montesecco. 
Many there were who would have given to him 
unconditional liberty ; but some, more tenacious 
than the rest, insisted that the same sentence should 
be pronounced upon him as that which, at the 
entreaty of Lorenzo, had been pronounced upon 
Guglielmo de' Pazzi, the husband of Bianca de' 
Medici, which was, that he should remain for ever 
at his country seat, which was distant five-and- 
twenty miles from Florence. 

Again, it was urged that Guglielmo had actually 
been taken in arms against the Medici ; while 
Montesecco had quitted Florence before the murder. 

At length, the wishes of Lorenzo prevailed ; and, 
with a glowing cheek and a beating heart, Me- 
lanthe saw the officer depart with orders for the 
unconditional release of Montesecco. He was to 
be free. Alas ! would his freedom bring happiness 
or misery to her ? This question was now soon to 
be at rest. 

Escorted by Lorenzo and his friends, Melanthe, 



29S MELANTHE. 

no longer bowed down by the shame of suspicion, 
returned to the house of Caterina, who was almost 
distracted by the grandeur in which she found 
herself suddenly enveloped. 

What was her surprise, when she found her 
humble room fully occupied; and Melanthe, who 
that morning had quitted the house in tears, now 
rushed forward in an ecstacy of joy, and was clasped 
in the arms of her father and Hassan. 

Vanozia had not forgotten her promise, although 
its fulfilment had been attended with much diffi- 
culty, as Melanthe learned by a letter delivered to 
her by Elphenor. It was not until the liberation 
of Hassan from the prison of the Inquisition, that 
Vanozia had been able to communicate to him the 
secret of the escape of Melanthe. Without delay, 
Hassan revealed the disgraceful history to the ear 
of the Pope. Sixtus being at that moment com- 
pletely absorbed in the movements of the conspira- 
tors against the Medici, became filled with alarm 
at the prospect of the additional scandal which the 
attempt of the Cardinal would, if made public, 
entail upon the church ; and joyfully accepted the 



MELANTHE. 293 

offer of Hassan to quit Rome for ever, the instant 
tliat Elphenor sliould be restored to freedom. 
Without apprising the Cardinal of his intentions, 
the Pope commanded the immediate liberation of 
the prisoner ; and Hassan with Elphenor were on 
their way to Florence, ere Borgia was aware of 
such a step being contemplated. On discovering 
what had occurred, his rage at first knew no bounds; 
but receiving, the next day, intelligence of the 
escape of Melanthe from the brigands, he was 
forced to smother his resentment, and secretly to 
acknowledge himself baffled on all sides. 

" Poor Vanozia," said Melanthe with a sigh, as 
she folded up the letter, and recollected the beauty 
and the sorrow of the writer ; but in another 
moment the embrace of her early friend, Clarice, 
and the clamour of delight with which Mariana, 
who had accompanied Hassan and Elphenor, over- 
whelmed her " dear child,'"* drove away all thoughts 
of sadness from her mind. 

And then, after a little while given to the 
overwhelming joy of this re-union, there was a 
deep silence. There was one missing from that 



294 MELANTHE. 

happy group, and the name of " Gennaro '' drew 
tears from every eye. Poor Gennaro ! and yet 
was he not happier than if he had awaited on 
earth the events that were destined to happen ? 

Lorenzo also wept for the death of Giuliano ; 
but when the days of his mourning had expired, 
joy once more shone upon all hearts ; and, amidst 
the prayers and the blessings of his fellow citizens, 
to whom his recent danger had doubly endeared 
him, he was married to Clarice Orsini, on the 
same day that Montesecco became the husband of 
Melanthe. 



END or VOLUME III. 



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